Arizona Education Association


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ou did everything right. You rallied the entire state to make a historic investment in our public schools. You collected almost half a million signatures while a pandemic surged around you. You acted with a courage, resilience, and commitment few can match. You inspired the state and put fear in those that want to privatize our schools. Your community saw you. ey heard you. And they supported you by voting 'Yes.' And once again the governor changed the rules to stop you, this time weaponizing the state supreme court to deny our students the resources Arizona voters had approved. It pains this social studies teacher to write such a statement, but it is true. e arguments behind their decision treat Prop 208 differently than any other revenue stream, in education funding or any other area of the state budget. It would be easy to stay discouraged, but if we take a moment to see what we achieved—the parts no court could overturn or governor could veto—you might see what still puts fear in those that oppose us. Your courage built a stronger NEA by inspiring educators around the nation at every turn of our struggle for competitive compensation, reasonable working conditions, and better opportunities for our students. Educators in states with both friendly legislatures and governors wanted to march and feel as powerful as you looked as you rose again and again to demand better schools in Arizona. NEA president Becky Pringle experienced it as she interacted with members across the state during her February visit. She kept saying to me, "It's working in Arizona because your members really are all in." Your resilience built a stronger AEA by refusing to back down to legislators that do not understand or acknowledge the economic impact fully-funded public schools would have on every community in our state. By taking on the challenge to directly increase state funding for our public schools, you stayed united in the collective fi ht for all our students and all of us. Your commitment built stronger local associations across the state. Some locals rose from dormancy, new leadership teams were elected, and veteran leaders recommitted and welcomed the new energy and engaging tactics. You worked with your districts to make sure any new revenue we won went to compensation, benefits, and hiring new teachers and school staff. And let's not forget about you. You invested time and energy—resources in very short supply—to all these efforts. Some of you created space for new activists and leaders who found their voices and realized the power of their stories and of the collective power of educators. Some of you stepped into that space for the fi st time and began your leadership journey. We are all a work in progress, and I don't know of another profession that saw as much individual growth and development as ours over the past several years. Yes, you did everything right. It becomes evident when we take a moment to see the full range of your impact. And for that, I want to say thank you. None of it has been easy. You have much to be proud of, AEA. As we look back and see how we've strengthened ourselves and our unions at every level, I hope you share my confide ce that when the next challenges and opportunities come our way we will be ready. In Solidarity, Joseph H. omas, President Arizona Education Association IN SOLIDARITY by Joe omas AEA OFFICERS Joe omas President Marisol Garcia Vice President Angela Philpot Treasurer AEA STAFF Randy Parraz Executive Director Sheenae Shannon Editor Roxanne Rash Graphic Design Advertising Th AEA Advocate is published by the Arizona Education Association, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, Arizona 85004-1532. Phone: 602- 264-1774 or 800-352-5411 Fax: 602-240-6887. Email: AEA's website may be found at Permission to reprint any material originating with this publication is granted provided that credit is given to the AEA Advocate. Th AEA Advocate (ISSN 0194-8849) is published in Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer for $3.50 per year by the Arizona Education Association, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85004-1532. Periodicals postage paid at Phoenix, Arizona. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the AEA Advocate, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85004-1532. Moving? Please let us know before you go. Simply clip your mailing label from the back of the Advocate and send it along with your new address to: AEA Advocate 345 East Palm Lane Phoenix, Arizona 85004-1532 4 ADVOCATE | SPRING 2022

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