TEA endorses Harwell for GOP gubernatorial nomination, Fitzhugh for Democratic nomination

Press release from Tennessee Education Association

The Tennessee Education Association Fund for Children and Public Education (TEA-FCPE) has endorsed Beth Harwell in the Republican Primary for Governor, and Craig Fitzhugh in the Democratic Primary for Governor. TEA-FCPE is the political action committee of TEA, the state’s largest professional association.

“We think education in Tennessee would be well served by these two dedicated public servants,” said TEA president Barbara Gray. “It is clear both have listened to teachers, students and parents about what the state can do to support public schools, and the important decisions the next governor needs to make. They have strong differences on many issues, but a respect for teachers and the hard work that goes on every day in classrooms is something they share, and something the committee felt critical for the next governor.”

TEA membership is diverse politically and geographically. TEA members participate at a much higher rate in Republican and Democratic party primaries than the average Tennessee voter, with education being the number one issue.

“Teachers are Republicans and Democrats, and we vote education,” Gray said.

House Speaker Beth Harwell was recognized as the only educator in the race—her talks about testing and TNReady issues showed deep knowledge and concern about assessments and their use—and for her work to ensure state teacher salary funds get into teacher paychecks.

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh was recognized as an education advocate—his effort on TNReady hold-harmless legislation showed understanding of our high-stakes testing system—and for his years of dedicated effort to increase state K-12 funding.

“TEA members know that in Tennessee the primary is often more important than the general election, and that is why educators get involved in the party of their choice,” Gray said. “We will be working hard to help pro public-school Republicans and Democrats in General Assembly primaries, and to have strong education gubernatorial nominees. Polling shows education is a top issue for Republicans and Democrats. Each party could do no better than these education candidates.”

Note: Comments from the two candidates, as sent via email to media:

Fitzhugh: “It’s a true honor to receive the endorsement of the TEA who have dedicated their lives protecting students and children in the state of Tennessee.

“During my time as an elected official and public servant, I have continually been an ally of public schools all across this state to make sure teachers are given the tools and freedom they need to educate our children and are compensated fairly for the important work they do. My wife Pam is a retired educator who dedicated her career to teaching children with hearing disabilities. I have always been inspired by her commitment, which is why I have spent the last 24 years advocating for students, teachers and our public education system. Educating our children is the most important thing we do and I am honored to earn the trust of those who have committed their lives to bettering others.”

Harwell: “I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Tennessee Education Association,” Harwell said. “Education is my top priority, and as Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, I have led some of our boldest reforms that resulted in Tennessee being one of the fastest improving states in education.

“As a former teacher, I understand and value the work our educators do day-in and day-out, and I am grateful for TEA’s support. As governor, I will continue to have an open door and listening ear for teachers and parents, always keeping in mind the best interests of students who represent the future of Tennessee.”




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