Opinion: More Conversations Needed in Public Education

Aug 17, 2023 at 04:56 pm by WGNS News

Submitted by JC Bowman - Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee

OPINION: Professional Educators of Tennessee helps policymakers emphasize the importance of quality education and the challenges faced by public schools and educators. We play a vital role in advocating for educators, promoting effective education policies, and working towards a brighter future for students.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has called the Tennessee General Assembly to convene a special legislative session on August 21, 2023, to strengthen public safety. School safety is critical, as educators need safe and supportive environments to teach effectively. Increasing funding for SROs and more law enforcement involvement protects students, educators, and school employees. We advocate for policies that address student behavior, mental health support, teacher assaults, and school discipline policies.


We must recognize the significance of teachers in children's education. This means advocating for recruiting and retaining quality educators who are passionate and innovative, as they play a pivotal role in the success of students.

Attracting and retaining qualified teachers is an ongoing challenge in Tennessee. Teacher shortages, especially in certain subjects and rural areas, can impact the quality of education students receive.

Every child, regardless of socio-economic status, should have the right to a quality education that helps them reach their highest potential. Education is a crucial factor in shaping the future of both individuals and society.

It is important to create engaging and stimulating learning environments that leverage technology effectively. Schools should foster a culture that inspires students to excel and provides them with meaningful and challenging curricula.

Math helps children develop essential skills. Reading and literacy are critical steps in building a quality education. We recognize that reading gaps exist, particularly for disadvantaged students, and we have championed efforts to address reading across the state, including dyslexia legislation, to address these issues.

Yes, there are many educational challenges. We need to distinguish between public education itself and education policy.  Public education isn't "broken," but educational policies may be. It is also important to acknowledge that solutions to many challenges, especially those in urban schools, require time, short-term and long-term objectives, and collaboration.

We need to recognize that some districts, even when given time, have not made enough progress.  We see continued turnover among educators and school administrators, including superintendents of schools. The impact of continuous changes in education policies on public education depends on the intentions behind the changes, the quality of the policies, the timeline, and the level of support provided to educators and institutions during the implementation process.

There is a vital need for collaboration among various stakeholders, including civic organizations, the faith community, and businesses. We must work together to foster hope and transformation in communities and remain non-partisan in that effort. A strong educational system is crucial, and we must have a commitment to shared values and a clear vision that encourages teamwork and collaboration.

Comprehensive education policies must prioritize the well-being and potential of every student. It must recognize the importance of teachers, collaborative efforts, and addressing challenges in the education system to ensure a brighter future for individuals and society.

Public education is a federal concern, a state responsibility, and a local operation. To strengthen education in Tennessee, we believe more open conversations with decision-makers, educators, community members, and parents are needed.

Submitted by JC Bowman - Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.

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