Keeping Democracy Alive at The Local Level
"Grassroots" democracy and citizenship are the heart of the American heritage, and at no place else can this concept be better implemented within the framework of the TEA than through the Legislative Committee of the local education association. Here, members can address national, state, and local issues that impact them daily.
Activities of the committees are coordinated through TEA's legislative program. The local legislative committee also may incorporate local legislation, federal legislation, and citizenship within its purview.
Back To Top
Structure of The Legislative Committee
Public schools are inextricably associated with legislative matters, since the funds, the programs, and the procedures for much of their activity are decided through a legislative process. Thus, it is extremely important that every local association have a strong legislative committee and/or local PACE (political action) committee.
In the best interest of a continuing legislative program, the legislative committee's membership should be staggered so that experienced members can remain on the committee while training new appointees.
Back To Top
Purpose of The Legislative Committee
Goals of the legislative committees should not only be consistent with the state and national policies adopted by the TEA and NEA governing bodies, but they should be consistent with the programs of the system in which the committee functions. The committee's work has three aspects — federal, state and local.
One of the primary purposes of the committee is to assure one hundred percent participation by teachers in the affairs of democracy, including voting, holding elective office, understanding the TEA-NEA programs, and keeping in close touch with elected officials. The key is active participation in the expansion of democratic involvement thus promoting better education.
Materials to assist in the legislative programs of the local associations are available through the TEA and NEA. These materials prove most helpful in conducting the ongoing work of the committee and of the general association membership. The TEA staff is also available for assistance in developing the committee's goals.
Since the committee is a continuing one, with overlapping terms of members to improve continuity, much of the work done during the year is of a lasting nature. The chairperson should ask for time at the regular meetings of the full association or of the representative assembly to provide information on legislation or to promote the civic understanding of the group.
Back To Top
Responsibilities of The Legislative Committee
Use a questionnaire to determine the political know-how and competence of your group.
Check annually on registration and voting history of all school personnel.
Conduct an annual drive to ensure all members are registered to vote.
Prepare maintain up-to-date maps of state, local, and national legislative districts with names of current representatives.
Prepare and maintain up-to-date maps of voting precincts and locations.
Organize programs on aspects of local, state, and national public affairs that teachers need to know. These could cover such topics as how political parties are organized, how laws are made, how taxation affects education, and how people become candidates for office.
Prepare and keep an up-to-date local government manual listing contact information for officials and offices.
Set up a meeting to hear views of opposing candidates.
Make a survey to determine in what social, civic or service groups members of the local or county association participate.
Work in unison with you local PACE committee to promote pro public education candidates. You may want to make local PACE membership a requirement for serving on the Legislative Committee.
Particular emphasis should be placed on local school finance issues and teacher welfare. Efforts should be made to instruct all school personnel in all aspects of the local budget process. Success or failure of legislative efforts of the TEA, whether state or federal, will depend to a large degree on the effectiveness of the local association committee.
Local legislative committees, with the full support of the local education association, should recommend to the TEA legislative committee any legislative proposals they wish to see become a part of the TEA legislative program. Active participation by local education associations in every phase is the key to the success of the TEA program.
Back To Top