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Statewide Public Education Campaign

Public education in Tennessee is under attack from politicians and SOCM is fighting back! 

In recent years, we’ve seen an alarming number of bills coming out of Nashville that are designed to set public school teachers and students up for failure. For-profit charter schools are taking desperately-needed funds away from public schools. Tennessee is already trailing most of the country in per-student funding coming in at 46th out of 50 states. Books are being banned. Legislators are increasingly relying on standardized tests as the sole indicator of a student’s performance. 

SOCM members all over Tennessee are working locally and at the state level to educate and organize community members to stand up for students, teachers and our local schools. 

We know that the push to defund public education in Tennessee takes MANY forms and there are many issues that need attention. We ALSO know that it’s critical that we build campaigns that are concrete, deeply felt, that reach people where they're at, and bring new people into the long term work.


Don't Let the Disastrous Third-Grade Retention Law Take Effect

New state law TCA 49-6-3115 requires all third graders who do not pass a single standardized reading test to be held back and repeat third grade. Parents, teachers, and school administrators are overwhelmingly against this punishing law, but legislators and testing companies continue to push this on our already overburdened local school systems. 

The alignment between parents, teachers and school administrators on this issue creates a huge opportunity to bring folks together and actually get this law amended in the Spring 2023 Legislative Session. Between now and February, there is a window to bring folks together and take action.


  • 2021 statistics suggest that statewide, over 70% of 3rd and/or 4th graders could be held back and forced to repeat 3rd or 4th grade with this new law. Our buildings, teachers, staff and students cannot sustain this.

  • Remediation should be determined by the student's overall performance, along with the recommendation of their teachers; a child's fate should NOT be determined by a single test.  

  • Retention alone, especially by third grade, does not improve student outcomes: there are no data to support this law.

  • We need policies and funding that actually address student academic, social and emotional needs, not another high stakes standardized test.

  • Summer school has been proposed as a way for 3rd graders who don’t pass the test to get a second chance. However, school districts have not been given funding or a concrete plan for what this would look like. Furthermore, there is no evidence showing that summer school will have a significant impact on results of a single test.


The General Assembly should amend TCA 49-6-3115 to allow retention to be based upon all school district information on each student, not a single standardized test. We want evidence-based assessment and learning solutions for our students grounded in good data and the real life experience of educators. Our legislators should focus on providing more skills-based reading intervention for K-2nd students, hiring more support staff, increasing teacher pay, and partnering with community agencies to meaningfully address student and staff mental/physical wellbeing.


Statewide Public Education Campaign: Projects
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