Ready? Here we go:
All candidates for county elected positions are sent a questionnaire. If they are seeking HCEA endorsement they complete and return them.
These questionnaires are made public to members as well.
Over a month and through multiple platforms, all HCEA members are invited to participate on interview panels. Typically, the panels are comprised of 4-8 people. As much as is possible, the same members interview for the same race. For example, all BoE candidates would be interviewed by the same panel.
Any HCEA member can participate.
Each panel member takes notes on the questions (all candidates have the same questions) and then scores them and cites examples from the interview. The scores then go on to the Government Relations Committee. The GR team uses what is provided by the interview panels plus any other relevant information to make their decision. They may have a first and second choice to put forward at this point.
The GR committee is also open to all members. The size ranges from 10-20 people.
The Government Relations committee's decision then goes to the Board of Directors (comprised of 13 elected members). The Board of Directors cannot change the recommendation. They can concur with it (as a body) or not concur. They can speak to their decision at the Rep Council meeting.
The Board of Directors is elected by HCEA members.
The recommendations then go to the Rep Council for a vote. The Rep Council can say “yes” or “no”. They can also make motions to support other candidates. The candidate brought forward must reach support of 58% or more to pass.
The Rep Council is made up of about 175 HCEA members from all school sites. Approximately 120 attend regular meetings.
This is the part of the process where there can be a good deal of debate. These discussions, whether calm, heated, short, or lengthy, are a part of how it all works.
For elected officials at the State level for Howard County (State Delegates, for example) the process is similar but, after it leaves the HCEA Rep Council, it then travels to an additional process at the State level.
A few notes: it has come to my attention that some people have said HCEA is not permitted to endorse because they are a union. This is inaccurate. As I noted yesterday, HCEA has a PAC and follows all the same rules as everyone else in regard to contributions to candidates.
Also, no one is paid for serving on committees or for handing out the Apple Ballots.
So, there you have it. This is how the Howard County Educators’ Association arrives at their list of endorsements for each election. If you were curious about how all this comes about, I hope have you have found this helpful.
It is a human process, and claims no particular infallibility. It is driven by the involvement of the teachers who choose to be a part of it. That’s it. There’s nothing mysterious about it. I am indebted to HCEA President Colleen Morris for walking me through this process and answering all my questions. If you have participated and have more to add, please add your thoughts in the comments section.
When it comes to casting your own votes, I encourage you to do your homework and make up your own mind. But, if you bump into anyone spreading falsehoods about the Apple Ballot, well, maybe you can set them straight.