The victory of passing hold-harmless legislation has members and parents asking what the next step is in addressing the problems of TNReady, confusing portfolios, discrepancies in state scores compared to ACT, and a variety of other critical Tennessee education issues. That step is electing people ready to work on solutions.
This will be a watershed election year with a chance to elect a new governor who has tremendous power to change the direction of education. More than one-third of the General Assembly seats are open, and dozens more have competitive primaries. There are friends of education in every race.
“This is a really important opportunity for us to elect a governor and legislators who will listen to teachers and parents about the issues our schools face, and work with us on how we can move forward,” said TEA President Barbara Gray. “We have done a lot of work in the past two election cycles to elect pro-public education candidates. That work has benefited us in fights like hold-harmless. Now we have the opportunity to elect a governor who will take some common sense approaches to return professional control, improve funding and prevent privatization.”
The next important date in the Tennessee election calendar is the August 2 primary, with early voting open from July 13 to July 28.
“It is important to remember that for the vast majority of General Assembly seats, the primary is the general election. Whoever wins the primary will be the next senator or representative,” said TEA Assistant Exec. of Government Relations Jim Wrye. “These are often low turnout elections making the teacher voice that much more powerful. Members have done a great job turning out in these primaries, Democratic or Republican, and it has made a huge difference in the political standing of educators and public education. Now it will be a sprint to the upcoming primary. Get ready!”
TEA will be making endorsements of incumbents who have strong voting records with the association and its members, and will be sending information to local associations on candidates and their positions. There are a few local associations with political actions committees, but where they are organized, TEA Government Relations will be in constant contact about candidates and campaigns.
It is important to note that members are encouraged to participate and be active in any campaign they wish, and do not need to be a member of a local PAC.
“We’ve had such great participation by members in the past in the political process,” said Wrye. “If there is one thing I know for a fact, is that when members are engaged and active, there isn’t a candidate we can’t get across the finish line.”