Coffee County Mayor Gary Cordell has joined a growing coalition of Tennessee municipal and county mayors in support of the advancement of early education as a priority to address deficient reading and math scores for most third-grade students in Tennessee’s public schools.

Cordell joins more than 50 Tennessee mayors as part of Tennesseans for Quality Early Education (TQEE), a statewide, bipartisan advocacy organization.

“It is a fact of life that to attract good paying jobs to our area, we must have a skilled workforce,” said Mayor Gary Cordell. “What many people don’t think about is that building those workforce skills starts with development early in life through learning to read, solving math problems and learning how to get along with others.”

“We can and must do a better job of educating young Tennesseans in the critical early years of learning to set the stage for success in middle school, high school and beyond,” said TQEE Executive Director Mike Carpenter.

With a new governor and large turnover in the state legislature because of retirements, the Mayors’ Coalition wants to ensure that new policymakers continue current early education investments and expand programs and policies proving to be successful. The coalition believes the state has made significant progress in improving student outcomes, but that there is much more to do to elevate Tennessee’s citizens and communities.

“I strongly urge our next governor and legislature to continue to promote early literacy with proven efforts like Read 2 B Ready,” Mayor Cordell said. “I believe this program helps our young children to establish a firm foundation for their education journey. I believe we need to continue to improve the quality and expand pre-kindergarten programs across the state and support our teachers with quality training and coaching.”

The Mayors’ Coalitions’ ranks include:

Anderson County, Mayor Terry Frank;

Chattanooga, Mayor Andy Berke;

Coffee County, Mayor Gary Cordell;

Cookeville, Mayor Ricky Shelton;

Crockett County, Mayor Gary Reasons;

Franklin County, Mayor David Alexander;

Hickman County, Mayor Mark Bentley;

Houston County, Mayor James Bridges;

Jackson, Mayor Jerry Gist;

Knox County, Mayor Glenn Jacobs;

Lake County, Mayor Patrick D. Johnson;

Lauderdale County, Mayor Maurice Gaines;

Lewis County, Mayor Jonah Keltner;

Paris, Mayor Carlton Gerrell;

Putnam County, County Executive Randy Porter;

Rutherford County, Mayor Bill Ketron;

Selmer, Mayor John Smith;

Sevier, Mayor Larry Waters;

Stewart County, Mayor Robin Brandon;

Tipton County, County Executive Jeff Huffman;

Union City, Mayor Terry Hailey; and

Wayne County, County Executive Jim Mangubat

About TQEE

Tennesseans for Quality Early Education (TQEE) is a statewide advocacy organization focused on education policy from birth to third grade. Our bi-partisan coalition is comprised of business, law enforcement, faith, education and civic organizations and individuals in communities across Tennessee. The group’s members support high quality early education to improve academic achievement, boost workforce development and enhance quality of life in our communities. Learn more by visiting our website at

Recommended for you