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Franklin hopes to talk education in state Legislature

March 28th, 2014 9:16 pm by Gary B. Gray

Franklin hopes to talk education in state Legislature

Todd Franklin

East Tennessee State University academic adviser Todd Franklin picked up qualifying papers this week and plans to become a candidate for the state’s 7th House District, joining Republicans Matthew Hill and Phil Carriger in the Aug. 7 state primary.

Franklin, 51, said the motivating factor in his decision to run is the continual problems in education.

“I find the current discussion of the Common Core standards to be way off the mark,” he said Friday. “I have not been impressed with what I have discovered about the Common Core standards.

“However, even if the Common Core did not exist, I would still feel compelled to run for office. If nothing else, I want to educate the public on exactly what is happening in education in our state. We shouldn’t be talking about increasing standards when we have not able to satisfy previous standards for many years.”

Franklin works at ETSU’s Department of Computing as its undergraduate advisement coordinator. He spends most of his time working with students and faculty to resolve registration and graduation issues, while also teaching introductory courses in computer science.

Franklin received a master of arts degree in philosophy from the University of Hawaii in 1992. He also earned a master of science degree in computer science from ETSU in 2006. He taught philosophy and courses as a graduate student at the University of Hawaii as well as adjunct computer science courses at Northeast State about 10 years ago. He also taught as a full-time adjunct at ETSU in 2006-2007.

He said most students who have passed the required number of English and math courses in Tennessee (and passed the required end-of-course exams) cannot test at corresponding levels. Franklin also said that, from what he has witnessed, many students entering ETSU have math deficiencies and cannot pass the ACT math portion that would be equivalent to Algebra I.

This means students must take four years of math in high school, yet they cannot demonstrate an understanding of those first two years.

“We may have high standards, but these are useless If the standards are not enforced,” he said. “A student I spoke to recently had a 4.0 high school GPA, yet his ACT math score was 17. This would have previously required two semesters of developmental algebra. The requirements can now be satisfied by completing five math competency levels in learning support during a single semester.

“So, not only do we let students graduate from high school without the needed knowledge, we allow them to enter college when the odds are against them. Most of these students will not compete a degree and are probably gone within two semesters.

There is enough blame to go around, from Nashville, to local school systems, to the university and college policies, and the problem is not unique to Tennessee, Franklin added.

“Public schools are not performing well because of multiple issues, one of which is related to standardized testing,” he said. “There is no simple solution, but you know the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem, and we definitely have a problem.

“This is something I am very passionate about, although it is not the only thing I am passionate about. Sometimes Nashville simply doesn’t have the needed skill set to correctly address the issues. This is our future, and we’re not managing it very well.”

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