VOTE, because the 2018 elections are a watershed for Tennessee public schools and educators.
A new governor, many newcomers in the General Assembly, and new federal officeholders including a U.S. Senator, all will have significant impact on funding, laws and policies affecting every classroom in the state.
That is why every educator needs to vote and mark their ballot for the pro-public education candidates standing for election.
TEA Fund for Children and Public Education, the political action committee of the association, has candidate endorsements in most elections. TEA-FCPE is non-partisan, reviewing Republican and Democratic candidates for positions, records and electability to gain association support.
“It’s not about ‘R’, it’s not about ‘D’, it’s about ‘E’. A friend of education is a friend of ours, regardless of party. That has been our strategy that has allowed us to defeat vouchers, increase state funding, and pass things like hold-harmless legislation when state tests crash or portfolios go off the rails,” said TEA president Beth Brown. “For us to move forward on big goals in the future, we all need to vote and vote for pro-public education candidates.”
At the top of the ballot, TEA-FCPE has endorsed Phil Bredesen for U.S. Senate. Bredesen has a record of protecting and enhancing education funding as a two -term governor. Tennessee was one of only a handful of states that didn’t cut K-12 funding during the Great Recession in 2008, a testimony to how important education is to Bredesen.
Federal funding accounts for one of every eight dollars spent in Tennessee’s public schools, funding that is critical for so much in our schools, from special education and teaching positions, to student nutrition and internet connectivity.
“Phil Bredesen has a record of support for our public schools, even in the darkest times we’ve faced,” said TEA President Beth Brown. “We now see increasing threats to federal education funding that is critical to all Tennessee schools. We need someone with a proven record of defending and supporting our schools.”
“Every candidate for public office pledges their support for education. The real test is after the election, when there are choices to be made, where does education actually end up on their priority list,” Bredesen said.
“Even in the most difficult budget times in our state history, I made sure never to cut education, and make investments whenever possible. Every student has the one opportunity for a better future; taking resources from that student is always wrong.”
For Governor, TEA-FCPE encourages educators to vote for Karl Dean. Dean is the only candidate who opposes vouchers and has pledged to make increased K-12 funding the priority in his administration.
“Would you want a governor who would send public school funds to private schools or arm teachers and let guns in classrooms? Bill Lee believes all of that; I don’t,” Dean said. “That’s the choice in this election. I’m not the flashiest guy running, but we don’t need an extreme governor who would take us backward. Let’s keep Tennessee moving forward.”
TEA-FCPE has made endorsement in many, but not all legislative races across the state. Some House and Senate districts have no general election whatsoever. Incumbents, regardless of party affiliation, with strong pro-public education records receive the endorsement, an important fact to encourage lawmakers to vote with local teachers and against special interests.
An example is Rep. Jim Coley (R-Bartlett) and Rep. Dwayne Thompson (D-Cordova), two incumbent legislators in adjoining Memphis area districts with strong education voting records. Coley is a retired TEA member who has spoken effectively in the House on behalf of fellow teachers, and Thompson a freshman who has a solid voting record. Both candidates have strong challengers, but with the backing of TEA and members voting they should return to the General Assembly.
“We will need good people like Coley and Thompson in the next legislature as we work toward accomplishing our goals on testing, funding, and professional salaries,” said Brown. “If you receive communication from TEA on legislative endorsements, please consider voting for those candidates. We will need every friend of education we can elect.”