By TEA Executive Director Terrance J. Gibson | Unfortunately, the famous saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” does not apply to the Tennessee General Assembly.
For better or worse, the work of the legislature always matters and will always end up impacting your classroom one way or another.
This is why it is critical that educators and our fellow public education advocates pay attention and work to influence what happens within the halls of Cordell Hull and the Capitol.
The last 12-plus months have proven that no matter what else is going on in the world—even a global pandemic— we have to stay focused on our responsibilities as public education advocates. While educators were busy figuring out new ways to keep students engaged, mastering online learning tools and trying to stay safe and healthy, privatization groups and anti-public education lawmakers were busy working against the best interests of Tennessee students and educators.
TEA leadership and staff work hard to block bad legislation and push positive bills, but we can’t do the work without you. Students, educators, public schools and the communities we serve all win when policymakers hear consistently from educators back home. I know it is not easy to find the time and it isn’t always popular to speak out on political topics, but your students need you to be their voice.
Legislators are now back home in their districts while the legislature is adjourned. Now is the time to build relationships and promote, advocate and lead for your students, your profession and your association.
Promote the great work happening in our public schools by regularly inviting your legislators to visit your classroom. While you have them in your classroom, advocate for the resources your students need and the ways in which legislators could improve learning conditions and increase time to teach. Lead by example and be unapologetic in your commitment to fighting for great public schools and the quality education every Tennessee child deserves.
We can do this work together and accomplish great things for our students and schools. When we organize, stay engaged and take collective action, we spread out the burden and time commitment by each carrying our small piece.
As you wrap up the school year and look toward summer break, I challenge you to join me in identifying small ways to promote, advocate and lead for public education. Our students are counting on us!