Tennessee Education Association

Great Public Schools for All Students


525,600 minutes to fight for our students, schools, and profession

By TEA President Beth Brown

During college, I saw the musical Rent, the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive in the face of a looming crisis. One of the most memorable songs in the musical is “Seasons of Love” (if you know it, sing along):

525,600 minutes

525,600 moments so dear

525,600 minutes

How do you measure, measure a year?


Despite bottom-ten K-12 funding, the state’s budget process tries to keep revenue from reaching our classrooms 

Fighting for funding begins with debunking an estimate.

State officials and lawmakers often cite state rankings to highlight Tennessee schools as “the fastest improving in the nation.” 

There is one state ranking lawmakers and state officials never cite: Tennessee is 45th in the nation for funding per student. It is the state’s only major education ranking in the bottom 10 states. 

Working extra jobs to buy classroom supplies? We want to hear your story.

Decisions made by legislators in Nashville are forcing teachers to hold more than one job just to make ends meet. Teachers like Kathryn Vaughn are working multiple jobs on top of teaching because they are unable to survive on a teacher’s salary.

“I love my students and I love teaching, but I can’t afford lunch most days and I have to buy my own hand soap,” said Vaughn, who teaches art at Brighton Elementary School in Tipton. “When it rains, it rains in my classroom. I once received FEMA money when I lost everything in my closet. But you can’t rely on FEMA every time it rains.”

TEA Legal steps in to protect Cheatham Co. teachers’ rights, keep collaborative conferencing on track

In the fall of 2018, Cheatham County teachers voted to engage in collaborative conferencing under the state PECCA law. Teachers also overwhelmingly voted to have TEA represent them at the table. 

The process moved along smoothly, with the Cheatham County Board of Education team working cooperatively with the teachers’ team, until another organization stepped in and unlawfully interfered with the PECCA process. After receiving what the school board perceived as a threat from the Professional Educators of Tennessee, the board stopped conferencing. 

Despite pressure from TEA and legislators, the state slow-walks changes to portfolio system

Kindergarten teachers spoke and the Tennessee General Assembly listened. It appears it will take longer than expected for the state department of education to act. 

As a result of powerful TEA member testimony demanding relief from the troubled early learning portfolio system in April, the Tennessee legislature unanimously passed a bill allowing school districts to use alternate measures of student growth that have been approved by the State Board of Education. 

Why Tennessee stuffs millions into reserves while so many education needs are unmet

Tennessee schools get top 10 results with bottom 10 funding. We lead the South in graduation rates and statewide ACT scores, yet are behind all neighboring states in funding per student save for Mississippi. What would it take to get off of the bottom of the list and provide the funding Tennessee schools deserve?

Invest state tax revenue in our public schools instead of stuffing it in reserves.     

Did you know?

By TEA President Beth Brown — Did you know that the Tennessee General Assembly has a constitutional responsibility to fund public education? Article XI, Section 12 of the Tennessee State Constitution reads, “The state of Tennessee recognizes the inherent value of education and encourages its support. The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance, support and eligibility standards of a system of free public schools.”  The General Assembly shall provide. Shall. A small yet significant word.

Investing in leaders of color through the NEA Pathways Project - Don’t miss this opportunity to apply!

Are you passionate about racial and social justice? NEA’s Pathways Project has a perfect opportunity for you. 

The new initiative is seeking Hispanic, Latinx, Chicano, Native, Indigenous, American Indian, Black, Asian, Pacific/Islander, Native Alaskan and/or Native Hawaiian members to develop, test, and model leadership training skills. 

Rally for the funding we deserve!

SIGN UP FOR THE RALLY FOR OUR SCHOOLS Mon., March 16, 2020! All who believe in our strong public schools are invited to a statewide rally to fight for increased state investment in our children and an end to the state's punitive high-stakes testing system.

We are done with excuses about the "fully funded BEP."

We are done with inequitable and inadequate funding for public schools. 

We are done with holding down two jobs to make ends meet.