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KNOXVILLE — Funding teacher preparation programs will be the subject of University of Tennessee President Joe Johnson’s address to the annual meeting of the Tennessee Business Roundtable in Nashville on April 14.

Johnson will introduce a challenge issued by Knoxville businessman and University of Tennessee alumnus David T. Bailey, who has personally committed $1 million to the teacher preparation program at UT Knoxville.

“The key focus of the Bailey challenge is to connect investment in higher education with significant returns for both donors and the state of Tennessee,” Johnson says. “The combined efforts of teacher education programs statewide play a critical role in ensuring that all students receive a quality education and that they are fully prepared for higher learning and for success in the world of work.”

The quality of Tennessee’s schools is clearly linked to the quality of its teacher preparation programs, according to the Southern Regional Education Board’s 2003 report on teacher supply and demand in Tennessee.

Throughout Tennessee, 41 accredited institutions provide teacher preparation programs that can help the state meet the need to provide highly qualified, competent teachers. Bailey sees his personal commitment to scholarships for teacher interns at UT Knoxville as a means to improve the state’s competitive edge by improving the quality of education it provides its children.

“As a financier, I-m always interested in compound returns on my investments,” says Bailey. “I recognize the multiplier effect of hundreds and hundreds of students whose lives are touched in significant ways by an effective, inspiring teacher.”

At UT-Knoxville, the “Top Teachers for Tennessee” scholarship fund has been established to provide financial assistance to students in the teacher internship program. To contribute to the fund or to find out more about it, see the Web page of the UT College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, http://cehhs.utk.edu.

The Tennessee Business Roundtable will meet at the Sheraton Downtown Nashville, 623 Union St., from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., CDT.