NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee chapters of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., hosted their 2023 Legislative Day on the Hill where they met with lawmakers about achieving equity in education on Wednesday, March 15.

During their visit, NCBW members representing chapters from Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville focused on their theme “Equity in Literacy: Ensuring Every Third Grader in Tennessee Has Access to High-Quality Instruction and Support.” This topic is particularly important to NCBW following the Tennessee General Assembly’s passing of the Tennessee Literacy Success Act and the Tennessee Learning Loss Redemption and Student Acceleration Act.

The state law, TCA 49-6-3115, mandates that all third graders who do not pass a single standardized reading test will be required to repeat third grade. Statistics from 2021 indicate that more than 65 percent of third graders would not meet the proficiency standard and be held back. NCBW advocates for all third graders in Tennessee to have access to the resources, support and instruction needed to succeed in literacy, regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances.

“Education, one the cornerstones of our mission, is imperative to prepare our youth for the future,” said Janet Rachel, president of NCBW’s Metropolitan Nashville Chapter. “Our coalition aims to advocate for the population that will be the most impacted by the law and inform them about its implications.”

The visit included a breakfast briefing with the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators and a panel discussion facilitated by Tanaka Vercher, NCBW member and Metro Council Member, District 28. Panelists included State Representative Sam McKenzie, TN Black Caucus Chair and House Education Committee member; Tennessee Education Association President Tanya T. Coats and Freda Player, Metro School Board Member, District 7. The day also included a mock legislative session, tour of the Tennessee Capitol, meetings with representatives and a photo with Governor Bill Lee.