This afternoon, the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy will be hosting a panel to discuss kindergarten though graduate school (K-16) education, featuring business and community leaders as well as philanthropists and entrepreneurs.

The lecture, entitled "The K-16 Paradigm: The Ball's in Our Court," will follow Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's lecture at 2:30 p.m. today in the Baker Center's Toyota Auditorium. Bob Rider, dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, will moderate the panel.

"We want to find as many different ways to get (people) educated in Tennessee," Bob Kronick, a professor in educational psychology and counseling, said. "That's where the university comes in ... universities need to be anchors. That means they're an institution that isn't going anywhere, and they need to be solving social problems."

Nissa Dahlin-Brown, the associate director of the Baker Center, emphasized that students should be concerned about the state of education in Tennessee and the U.S. because it impacts everyone.

"Education is ... the base of everything," Dahlin-Brown said. "If we can get kids to stay in school, get them to do better ... get everybody to understand the importance of education. We'll be a lot better society."

Katie Cahill, a junior in English literature, agreed with Dahlin-Brown.

"I think we as students should care about education policy because we should care about what's going on in the world around us," Cahill said. "Education is such an important issue. It's a key factor in our socialization process, so it affects how we think, how we behave and what we value as a society."

Cahill, also an alum of Collierville High School, located near Memphis, said that an excellent high school experience sparked her interest in education policy.

"I enjoyed an amazing high school experience with incredible teachers, great opportunities and a good learning environment," she said. "As I hear more and more about bad schools, I'm becoming more concerned and opinionated about education policy."

Dahlin-Brown also emphasized the importance of education.

"We have to have an educated work force in order for the quality of life in Tennessee to be one that we want," she said. "You've got to go to something after high school, (because) you can't do a lot on a high school education."

The panel will feature Randy Boyd, CEO of PetSafe and the governor's adviser on higher education; Jennifer Evans from the Chamber of Commerce; Anthony Hancock, a teacher a Bearden Middle School; Richard Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; Bob Rider, dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences; and Pam Trainer from the Knox County School Board.

The event is free and open to the campus and Knoxville communities.