For the past 130 years, the Arizona Education Association has advocated on behalf of great public schools in Arizona. The Association does this by lobbying for adequate education funding and legislation that protects the rights of public school employees, getting funding initiatives passed at the ballot, and challenging unconstitutional laws in the courts. These legislative, legal, and ballot victories were only possible because of AEA and its members.
On December 22, 1892, 61 teachers gathered at Phoenix City Hall for the state-mandated Maricopa County Teachers’ Institute winter session and the issue of out-of-date textbooks was on their agenda. Teachers had been using 14-year-old Appleton series textbooks and wanted to collaborate together to lobby for more modern and updated texts. The topic was so significant that Pima County teachers also attended the meeting, forming a territorial organizing issue. It was at this meeting that a recommendation was made to create a territorial association for teachers.
State’s first teacher pension at $50 per month for retired teachers.
Legislation increased state aid from $20 per child to $25.
An AEA-led petition drive to raise per pupil spending to $40 for elementary and $60 for high school failed to make the ballot in 1936. In 1940, AEA spoke up again for budget legislation to improve public schools. This time an initiative was passed that raised per-pupil spending to $65 for elementary and $95 for high school.
Legislature created the Teachers' Retirement System, now called the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS)
Legislation increased state aid to $95 per elementary child and established county aid at $20 per elementary and secondary child.
The Arizona legislature passed the Teacher Continuing Contract Law, commonly called “tenure,” it meant a teacher with more than 3 consecutive contracts had a right to a due process hearing instead of automatic termination.
State aid increased to $127 per child and county aid to $30.50.
Legislation increased state aid to $170 per child and approved county equalization.
AEA helped pass a law in 1965 that allowed teachers to take leaves of absence. A female teacher could still be fired for being pregnant (this discrimination finally ended in the 1970s).
Legislature created the State School Equalization Fund.
Phoenix Union High School District Classroom Teachers Association successfully negotiated the first teacher contract in the state.
AEA wins lawsuit in U.S. Supreme Court to protect state trust lands true value by challenging a state law that restricted royalties for the sale of minerals from state school trust lands to far below market value.
In 1990, AEA failed to pass the Arizona Classroom Improvement Program Initiative for $1billion for public schools. AEA tried again with Prop 301, the Classroom Site Fund Act, which passed in 2000.
AEA wins lawsuit in Arizona State Supreme Court to protect public school funds by challenging state’s first voucher laws.
To help stop the bleeding of billions in cuts to education, AEA was one of the key groups to back Prop 100, a temporary 3-year penny sales tax increase to raise $3 billion for education and public safety.
AEA wins lawsuit in Arizona Superior Court challenging legislature’s attempt to reduce the salaries of public school employees by increasing their retirement contribution rate. This lawsuit resulted in legislation that returned the contribution rate back to an even split and required the state to refund money to public employees.
Prop 123, increase distributions from the Arizona Land Trust Permanent Endowment Fund for 10 fiscal years to increase K-12 education spending, passed.
REDforED walkout, over 75,000 educators, parents, students, community members, and education supporters marched to the Capitol to support OUR public schools. Prop 208 the Invest in Education Act was passed.
Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education
With more than 20,000 members, the Arizona Education Association (AEA) is the labor union for public school employees in Arizona. AEA members are teachers, community college professors, counselors, speech pathologists, bus drivers, secretaries, retired educators and student teachers and they belong to more than 150 local affiliates across Arizona.