A Republican gubernatorial candidate spoke about Tennessee needing more technical, vocational and agricultural schools during a meeting on Tuesday in the Roaden University Center.
Bill Lee, 57, is a Williamson County businessman running for governor.
He announced his candidacy in late April, joining Beth Harwell, Diane Black, Mae Beavers and Randy Boyd in the race to become the Republican nominee in the upcoming primary on Aug. 2. Current Governor Bill Haslam is term-limited and cannot seek a third consecutive term.
The Tennessee Tech College Republicans invited Lee to talk during dead hour about his candidacy and answer questions from students. Elizabeth Webb, president of the College Republicans, praised Lee's approach to listening to Tennessee's rural areas. Lee recently completed his tour through Tennessee's 95 counties in 95 days, in an effort to listen to the problems rural areas face.
"I've spent the last 17 years of my life thinking about how to make life better for other people," Lee said. "I want to bring awareness to many issues that could be improved in what I think is the greatest state in our country."
During his speech, Lee noted the importance of technical schools and other forms of post-secondary education besides four-year colleges.
"I understand deeply that skilled technicians and a skilled workforce is the answer to the future of economic development," Lee said.
He also congratulated Governor Haslam on the education programs instituted during the current administration, but highlighted the need for more options for high school graduates that don't go to college.
"When I'm governor we'll have vocational, technical and agricultural education," Lee said. "Agriculture is 13 percent of our economy and our education system almost doesn't address it at all."
Lee finished his speech by emphasizing the importance of a well-rounded education for the individual's development, not just for grades or records.
"Education is not about academic outcomes – it's about creating a whole person and preparing them for a career so they can have dignity that comes from meaningful work," he said.