TEA is rising stronger than ever

By TEA President Tanya T. Coats

Nelson Mandela famously said, “Do not judge me by my successes; judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”


TEA has been fighting for Tennessee educators, students and public schools for almost 160 years. It would be impossible to get to where we are today as the largest, strongest and most effective professional organization for educators without some bumps along the way and some attempts to knock TEA down.


Do not let current challenges interrupt our efforts to create great public schools that prepare all students for success. We must always continue forward in our work to do what is right for students.


In the face of numerous challenges, no one is better than educators at finding innovative ways to achieve success. It is our time to apply the same lessons we teach our students about resiliency and determination to ensuring educator voices are not silenced.


Elected officials underestimated TEA members when they banned the way members pay association dues to weaken the organization and silence educators.


Since the law singling out educators was passed in April, TEA converted a large majority of members to EZ Pay and we are signing up new members at a record pace. In addition, members are more engaged, and we have strengthened relationships with other pro-public education groups.


These challenges cannot define us. We will remain focused on what is in our control: continuing our tireless efforts to ensure our students succeed and our organization is around for another 160 years.


I know all of our members are standing with me in our commitment to strengthening our profession, our public schools and our association.


As you move through the remainder of this first semester, I want to encourage you to keep these four things top of mind:


  • Relationships: Be intentional about forming new relationships with colleagues, parents, neighbors and elected officials.

  • Resources: You can walk into your school building each day with the confidence of knowing TEA has your back. Review the TEA website, TNEA.org, and our various member communications to make sure you are taking advantage of all of the resources included in your membership.

  • Retention: As I travel back and forth across the state, a common concern I hear at nearly every school visit is “We are understaffed!” A district’s ability to attract and retain the best educators relies heavily on working conditions, salary and benefits for educators. Encouraging membership in TEA, engaging in collaborative conferencing and connecting with school board members can set your district up for success in easing teacher shortage challenges.

  • Respect: Educators deserve respect. Don’t ever forget it.


Our TEA is stronger than ever because of our growing and engaged membership. Some will keep trying to knock us down, but TEA is always going to get back up.