As Americans and Tennesseans, we demand elections take place and democratic institutions continue no matter the situation. As the state’s oldest and largest democratically governed professional association, the TEA Board of Directors has taken steps to ensure TEA’s representative process continues during the COVID-19 outbreak.
On March 25, the board voted to hold the 2020 TEA Representative Assembly virtually and conduct TEA elections by mail (see 2020 TEA RA Elections Process PDF attached below this article and watch the Delegate Briefing here).
All TEA statewide offices and many TEA positions are up for election.
“It is essential elections take place when they are scheduled. In this critical time for education and our entire state, TEA must be ready to represent members and their interests moving forward,” said TEA President Beth Brown. “Following our constitution and bylaws, even during a pandemic, is one important step to maintain and strengthen the association.”
To ensure election integrity, TEA will follow U.S. Department of Labor standards for conducting officer elections by mail. Ballots will be sent to delegates after the virtual TEA RA on May 16.
The virtual representative assembly will be conducted as a tele-town hall. TEA has had recent success using the format for statewide discussions, and the town hall process works favorably with the RA standing rules.
“As more of us join conference calls and other virtual meetings, shortfalls in formats can become apparent,” Brown said. “The tele-town hall provides participation in good order without extra sounds and distractions.”
Because of the pandemic, the virtual RA will focus only on essential functions of the association: the TEA budget and nominations for association offices. Votes on the budget and candidates will then be done by mail.
While the petition deadline has passed, interested candidates have until May 15 to submit a nomination letter signed by the local president and secretary affirming a local nomination vote.
Ballots will be mailed to TEA RA delegates following the adjournment of the TEA RA, along with return envelopes.
The normal process for local delegate selection for the TEA Representative Assembly may also be disrupted due the COVID-19 outbreak. TEA is working to develop tools and systems to help local associations with delegate nominations and elections that had taken place in person to make them electronic. Local leaders may contact their UniServ coordinator for any assistance. The deadline for submission of RA delegates by local associations is May 6.
If you are considering participating as a TEA RA delegate, please keep this issue of Teach. In the address box on the cover page you will find your TEA member number. This 10-digit member code is needed for verification to participate in the virtual RA and elections by mail.