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Bredesen frustrated by Board of Regents pace on ‘Wal-Mart 101’

It’s been nearly a year since Gov. Phil Bredesen announced aproposal to create a community college curriculum designed to prepare studentsto become managers at big-box retailers like Wal-Mart.

Yet there is no sign that any such “Wal-Mart 101″program will be available at two-year schools across the state anytime soon.

Asked in an interview with The Associated Press this weekabout what the holdup is, Bredesen responded: “The Board of Regents andthe general difficulty of moving things forward in the educationalsystem.”

The Board of Regents oversees two-year schools and publicuniversities that are not part of the University of Tennessee system.

“The Board of Regents on that one has not picked up theidea and carried forward on their own in some fashion,” Bredesen said.

Bredesen said he prefers state officials to moveaggressively on new ideas. He said he’d rather have to tell officials to slowdown rather than have to constantly prod them into action.

The governor said that he sometimes has to ask UT PresidentJohn Petersen to rein in the pace of new programs, but that that rarely occurswith the Board of Regents.

Board of Regents Chancellor Charles Manning could notimmediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Bredesen acknowledged that the Board of Regents may havebeen distracted by debate during the legislative session over severalcommunity-college related subjects like his ultimately doomed proposal to givefree tuition to high school graduates who average a 19 on their ACT college entranceexams. Bredesen has vowed to bring back the community college scholarshipproposal next year.

Meanwhile, the state last week announced that as part ofEastman Chemical Co.’s $1.3 billion reinvestment in its Kingsportfacilities the state will pour $1 million into tailoring programs at Northeast State Technical Community College to the company’s work force needs.

The “Eastman 101” program will address specificjob skills for mechanics, lab analysts and chemical operators. The proposalalso could benefit other companies in the region because they could hiregraduates of the programs.

Although the job training program will be at a Regentscollege, it won’t be available at campuses across the state the way Bredesenenvisions the “Wal-Mart 101” program

“We had the opportunity to do the ‘101’ with somebody,so we obviously grabbed that and took it,” Bredesen said. “The otherone (for big-box retailers) I’m still interested in and we’re still pushing forit.”

TennesseeBoard of Regents:

– Associated Press

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