Tennessee Education Association

Great Public Schools for All Students


We must all promote, advocate, lead

By TEA Executive Director Terrance Gibson | Out of the night that covers me/Black as the pit from pole to pole,/I thank whatever gods may be/ For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance,/I have not winced nor cried aloud./Under the bludgeonings of chance/My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears/Looms but the Horror of the shade,/And yet the menace of the years/Finds, and shall find, me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate,/How charged with punishments the scroll,/I am the master of my fate:/I am the captain of my soul. 

In challenging times throughout my life I often refer to William E. Henley’s timeless poem “Invictus.” The tumultuous year of 2020 was certainly a time notable stanzas and verses were applicable in many ways. 

Our communities and profession were covered in darkness of uncertainty. Educators faced difficult situations, and some of our colleagues paid with the ultimate sacrifice: their life. Educators never quit or bowed out, but instead faced the challenges, refused to give way to being conquered and are now marching forward for the benefit of students. True CAPTAINS! 

As we start 2021, it is with hope and belief this year will be better than the preceding one, for us as a country and as a profession. We saw 2021 get off to a fast and furious start with the special legislative session
on education. The session was billed as an opportunity to do what is right for students, educators and school communities. Unfortunately, it became more about attacking urban districts, introducing unfunded mandates, highlighting misleading data regarding reading and threatening districts to test as usual under a pandemic. 

TEA continued to ask the tough questions and promote the unmitigated facts. Educators never stopped the learning process throughout the pandemic, regardless of the setting or environment. Educators are continuing to deliver instruction in spite of the technological roadblocks, resource gaps and health risks. Educators stepped up to provide essential basic needs such as meals and social emotional supports. Testing and evaluations will yield invalid and skewed results under such a medical and community crisis. The state has the means to give educators a respectful raise to retain, attract and show that educators are valued. Coronavirus amplified to the public the disparities and gaps in communities of color and poverty. The state must fully fund and commit to long-term summer and enrichment programs, and not leave districts with unfunded mandates. 

The rapid approach to taking up legislation designed to impact students, families and communities for decades to come illustrated that in 2021 our voices can’t be by chance and we can’t stand in the shade.
It is imperative as educators we are promoters, advocates and leaders (PALs) of the profession. As we gear up for the next round of the legislative session, each of us must be deliberate and willing to share
in our communities and with policymakers our facts and truths, about what is best for our schools and profession. Throughout the session your voice must be heard as you promote, advocate and lead! 

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