As 2021 comes to a close, we extend our sincere gratitude to partners like you who help ensure Tennessee’s youngest learners get the brightest start possible. It is important to say that we don’t accomplish anything alone. From a successful legislative session to the launch of the Bright Start Tennessee Network (and everything in between), 2021 has been a year of big wins for little kids in Tennessee thanks to the strength of our coalition. We’d like to give a special shoutout to the teachers, parents, caregivers and health care workers who have continued to navigate the hardships of the pandemic, always putting our children first.
While we celebrate our wins, we acknowledge that we still have a long way to go to make sure all Tennessee children have the quality early education they need. We look forward to continuing to champion quality early education together in the year ahead.
Here are some of our shared victories in 2021:
- Together, we overhauled Tennessee’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program and unlocked hundreds of millions of previously stockpiled federal TANF funds. Thanks to the adoption of the Tennessee Opportunity Act this year, more TANF funds will be deployed to strengthen families and interrupt the cycle of poverty and government dependence.
- Together, we’ve started a movement to repair Tennessee’s broken child care system and strengthen the workforce of today and tomorrow. Legislation we championed led to the creation of the Tennessee Child Care Task Force, a 15-member body charged with developing a strategic plan that will better ensure Tennessee’s working families can access quality, affordable child care.
- Together, we’re addressing literacy and learning loss to get Tennessee students back on track. To help get students back on track, TQEE supported the passage of Governor Bill Lee’s package of literacy bills during the 2021 special legislative session on education. Among other things, the bills established a new reading program to help boost literacy rates and allocated resources for tutoring, summer and afterschool programs to accelerate learning and address learning loss due to the pandemic.
- Together, we are creating local plans for early childhood success through the Bright Start Tennessee Network (Bright Start TN). Bright Start TN was launched this year, bringing together a statewide network of community partnerships dedicated to accelerating early learning outcomes and closing achievement and opportunity gaps for Tennessee children birth through third grade.
- Together, we are united in support for early education. Our annual voter poll made clear that early education continues to have extremely strong bi-partisan support in Tennessee.
We are so proud of what we achieved together in 2021, and we can’t wait to see what we’ll accomplish together in 2022.
On behalf of all of us here at Tennesseans for Quality Early Education, happy holidays and best wishes for the year ahead!