Advocacy: The Facts Don’t Speak for Themselves

As an organization, we are extremely committed to raising student achievement and improving public K-12 schools across the state while at the same time championing the concerns of our members in a manner that is reflective of a professional association.

Members benefit from the expertise of our governmental relations department. We provide testimony on proposed legislation and work to guide our legislative platform. We also attend and provide input at State Board of Education meetings; represent members’ interests at Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System meetings; serve as liaisons to governmental agencies, as well as key stakeholders; and work with our members on political issues and involvement.

Advocacy is NOT a magic bullet. It may seem simple, but is not necessarily easy. It requires discipline, focus, and clarity of purpose. Our Legislative Program is focused on eight areas:
1) Governance
2) Educator Preparation and Certification
3) Compensation, Benefits and Employment
4) Curriculum, Programs and Services
5) Safe Schools
6) Education Finance
7) Teacher Retirement System
8) Federal Education Issues

Many educators are mystified at how they can be an effective advocate. Keep in mind these principles of effective advocacy:
• Clearly articulate the problem
• Offer positive and credible alternatives
• Keep message directed at those with the power to make changes
• Provide clear goals and measurable objectives
• Understand this will be a long term process, not one event or output
• Advocacy is a means to achieve a goal, not an end in itself
• Follow through to ensure policy changes lead to improvements in practice
• Remember that change is possible – and inspire others to feel the same

During the legislative session, members can stay on top of the action with our regular updates. http://eepurl.com/2sBaT

Professional Educators of Tennessee’s Legislative Program is the cornerstone of our organization’s legislative priorities and advocacy efforts. It represents our positions regarding education and issues over which the state Legislature, state agencies and federal government have power.

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JC Bowman is executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee