Sen. Reginald Tate of Memphis has been tapped to lead the legislative advisory council that works with Southern states to improve public education from pre-K through college.

Sen. Reginald Tate
Sen. Reginald Tate

Tate will chair the council of state lawmakers for the Southern Regional Education Board, a nonpartisan consortium of 16 states that collects data and makes policy recommendations based on its research. He succeeds state Rep. Tom Dickson of Georgia in that role.

The board is an influential resource on policy matters for lawmakers and other officials in the South. In Tennessee, its recent research and recommendations have contributed to decisions on new academic standards for math and language arts, public pre-kindergarten programs, teacher evaluations and the state’s school turnaround district, among other education topics.

As the council’s new chairman, Tate wants to see the board hone in on pre-K and bolstering parent involvement — both challenges facing districts in Tennessee and across the nation.

A member of the panel since 2007, Tate lauds the data generated by the consortium, calling it one of the board’s most important functions. “I can call them any time and they probably already have that data,” he said Wednesday.

The Atlanta-based Southern Regional Education Board was created in 1948 by governors and legislators who recognized the link between education and economic vitality. It provides one of the nation’s oldest forums on legislative issues.

Other Tennessee lawmakers on the board’s legislative council are Sen. Mark White of Memphis and Rep. Harry Brooks of Knoxville.