Celeste Carruthers for the Brookings Institution:
In May 2014, former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam traveled the state to ceremonially sign Tennessee Promise legislation seven times. The promise, for new high school graduates, was that they could enroll in a postsecondary associate or certificate program without paying for tuition out of pocket. Any balance not covered by federal or state grants would be billed to a new state endowment fund. The idea of “free community college” was a popular one. Five years later, at least 30 other states have active or proposed Promise programs. Each hopes to tackle barriers to college that are rising higher as tuition growth outpaces inflation and earnings. It is too early to say whether these efforts will be successful, but enough time has passed since May 2014 to share five insights from Tennessee Promise.
The Career and Technical Education Policy Exchange (CTEx) is a multi-state policy lab dedicated to improving the quality of high school Career and Technical Education programs in the US. We work side-by-side with state and local partners to develop data-driven policy recommendations ensuring all students are ready for both college and career.