Report Looks at Link Between Education, Quality of Life in State


NASHVILLE (AP) - A new report examines thousands of statistics from Tennessee to try to quantify the relationship between education and quality of life issues such as jobs, health and civic participation.

State Comptroller John Morgan and the University of Tennessee's Center for Business and Economic Research introduced the book, called "Education Crossroads," to the Legislative Planning Session of The Associated Press and the Tennessee Press Association on Thursday.

UT economics professor Matt Murray said the book intends to empower people with information about the value of education and to encourage individual Tennesseans to continue their schooling.

"It's about all the good things that come from a well-educated population," Murray said.

That includes statistics showing that life span, health care, income and voting rates in Tennessee increase for people who have more education. "The findings in this book are overwhelming and very compelling," Murray said.

Morgan said only 63 out of 100 ninth-graders in Tennessee can be expected to graduate from high school, well below the national average of 70. About 17 out of 100 earn a college degree, close to the national average of 18.

The 186-page, full-color book presents the statistics through charts, graphs and maps for topics ranging from the changes of a global economy to personal financial security and the well-being of children.

The book looks beyond publicly funded schools.

"This book is about education, including public and private education, home schooling, formal and informal education and so on," the preface says. "An important goal of this book is to motivate people to embrace education - and take one more step - regardless of its form."

The material is aimed at so-called stakeholders, including parents, business leaders, government officials and education professionals. It's also available through an interactive Web site at

Morgan said the state education trend is moving up, pointing to the State Board of Education's recent move to toughen standards by requiring chemistry, physics and four years of math for all high school students.

He warned against becoming discouraged because the higher standards inevitably will cause more schools to be labeled failing, at least initially.

"Significant increases in failing schools is my first measure of progress," Morgan said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.