Tennessee Education Association

Great Public Schools for All Students


A big hairy what?!

By TEA President Beth Brown

The term "Big Hairy Audacious Goal," or BHAG, might be new to you, but it is something that has been guiding the work of our association for the past three years. A Big Hairy Audacious Goal is defined as a strategic organization statement similar to a vision statement which is created to focus an organization on a medium-long term organization-wide goal which is audacious, likely to be externally questionable, but not internally regarded as impossible.

The TEA Board of Directors voted in 2015 to adopt two BHAGs:

  • Eliminate high stakes decisions based on standardized tests that affect Tennessee’s educators, students and schools by the year 2020, and
  • Increase Tennessee’s investment per student to the Southeastern average by the year 2020, with the ultimate goal of reaching the national average.

I remember working through this process with the board – then as vice president –  and thinking, “Wow. If we can pull this off, this will be tremendous for students and educators statewide.” It is no longer an “If” for me – it’s “when we pull this off.”

In the three years since the BHAGs were adopted, the association has made important progress toward accomplishing our goals. In testing, TEA’s advocacy has resulted in a test transparency law (though we are still waiting for the state to properly implement it), a reduction in testing for students, a reduction of the weight test scores carry in teacher evaluations, a law prohibiting the use of TVAAS in teacher licensure decisions and a number of hold harmless laws as needed when the test fails year after year.

In funding, the state has made unprecedent investments in public education funding, including teacher salaries. Of course, as you are reminded each time you look at your paystub, the increases allocated by legislators in Nashville aren’t really showing up in teacher paychecks.

While much has already been accomplished, we still have significant work left to do. That, among many other issues, is why TEA is doubling down on our BHAGs and rolling out the 20/20 Vision campaign.

It will take all of us working together to accomplish these big hairy audacious goals for our students. I hope you will join me in saying “I’m in!”

The first step is to make sure you are plugged in so you don’t miss any action alerts as we move forward. If you are not already following TEA on social media, check out the icons at the bottom of this page to connect with the association via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. On the TEA Facebook page you will find my very first Facebook Live video about the 20/20 campaign. Be sure to add the 20/20 Vision profile frame to your profile picture, too!

We must pull our state leaders back to focusing on what is best for students: more time for one-on-one attention and instruction, learning critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and creativity through a well-rounded education in a properly-funded classroom.

TEA will be rolling out a number of action items in the coming week. Stay tuned for more details!