2018 AEA Legislative Conference January 27th, 2018 // AEA Headquarters - Little Rock

2018 Legislative Conference 2018


All AEA members are invited to join us at AEA Headquarters in Little Rock on January 27, to learn about the state budget and how educators can stand up for their students, their profession and their schools.

AEA members support students every day, and lawmakers need to hear from experienced professionals during the budget process and when they are drafting new laws that affect education in Arkansas.

The conference is free for AEA members but registration is required.

Lunch will be provided.

Education Advocates Invite Parents and Community Members to SW Arkansas Education Forum

Texarkana, AR — Parents, teachers, administrators, school board members and other education advocates will celebrate the success of Southwest Arkansas’ public schools and discuss students’ needs for the future Thursday, November 30th at 5:30 pm at Trice Elementary (4505 Pinson Drive, Texarkana, AR).

Local members of Arkansans for Quality Education and leaders are working together to plan the education forum. Texarkana Superintendent Dr. Becky Kesler says it will be an important opportunity for the community to learn specific ways Southwest Arkansas School Districts are improving student achievement, and how they can help to ensure successful strategies are implemented statewide.

“There is wide agreement on a set of practice-proven ways to improve our schools,” Kesler says. “As a community, we must stand together to call on our elected officials to focus on these solutions to ensure a brighter future for our students.”

The public is invited and encouraged to attend, and dinner will be served at the event.

Arkansans for Quality Education formed to push for proven, consensus-based education reform at the Capitol. Its members include the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, Arkansas Education Association, Arkansas Opportunity to Learn Campaign, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Arkansas School Boards Association, Arkansas Rural Education Association, Arkansas Citizens First Congress, and Rural Community Alliance.


Board Approves Changes to Arkansas Teacher Retirement System


On Monday, the Board of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System voted to adopt various measures to ensure the long-term health of your retirement system. As you know, the Board members are all educators and members of the retirement system elected by other members.

The Board acted in three key ways this week. First, the Board changed the way it calculates risk and costs based on mortality rates. This is important because people are living longer and the system must be prepared to meet its financial obligations. Second, the Board reduced the assumed rate of return on the fund to 7.5% per year from 8%. This is important because it influences how the board acts in the future to guarantee the long-term health of the system. Third, the Board adopted a series of changes, which will be implemented in 2020, to protect the future health of your retirement system. These changes will impact contributions and benefits for all ATRS participants, retirees and active members alike. In 2020, the amount each member pays into the system will increase from 6 percent of the member’s salary over 4 years to 7 percent in fiscal 2023. All ATRS participants will share the load equally without any one group disproportionately responsible.

It is important that you look at the Executive Director Update here.  You can also take a deep dive into all the measures taken by your ATRS board here.

Finally, ATRS is proposing to hold “school hall meetings” around the state to discuss any questions or concerns by any educator. If you would like to host one of these meetings, please contact us so we can help make it happen.

The President’s Post It's American Education Week!

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Today is the first day of American Education Week, a time to celebrate public schools across our state and nation for providing all students with the support, tools, and time to learn.

Across our nation, public schools are where children from all backgrounds and circumstances come together to learn and be inspired by professionals who believe in and are devoted to students. Nine out of 10 students in the United States attend public schools. We are making a difference in their lives each day.

We would love for you to celebrate this week with us by taking pictures that represent your pride in public schools and posting them using #PublicSchoolsForAll.

I had the pleasure of introducing a resolution last week at the State Board of Education meeting recognizing the observance of Public Education week. It was wonderful to hear the words copied below stated for the public record, and for our State Board Members to be reminded that quality public schools are the cornerstone of our communities, where we provide the tools, resources and opportunity every student deserves every day.

In solidarity,

Cathy Signature




DSC_0837WHEREAS, The National Education Association designated November 13-17, 2017, as American Education Week in an effort to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference to ensure that every child receives a quality education;

and WHEREAS, Education is a pillar of democracy and a cornerstone of American opportunity that gives our children the foundation they need to understand and appreciate our nation’s values of freedom, civility and equality;


and WHEREAS, Arkansas public schools provide outstanding opportunities in academics, fine arts, athletics, extracurricular activities, and vocational training to equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to grow, thrive and succeed in our global society;

and WHEREAS, Arkansas public schools bring together adults and children, teachers, education support professionals, volunteers, business and civic leaders, and elected officials who play an important role in inspiring children to learn;

and WHEREAS, All Arkansas education employees including teachers, education support professionals, principals and administrators deserve our gratitude, respect and support for their utmost professionalism and commitment to our schools;

and WHEREAS, Arkansas parents are an integral part of the educational process, providing a nurturing home learning environment, and serving as their child’s first teachers and advocates, and are important partners with the school system;

and WHEREAS, Community involvement in schools provides vital support and opportunities for students to participate in community learning and outreach activities;

and NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT We, the members of the Arkansas State Board of Education, recognize the observance of November 13-17, 2017, as American Education Week.


AEA Announces 2017 Human and Civil Rights Awards Honorees

Little Rock, AR – The Arkansas Education Association’s Human and Civil Rights (HCR) Committee is excited to announce Rev. Willie Wade, Jr. and his organization the Difference Makers of Hot Springs as the 2017 Outstanding Individual Award and Organizational Award for Human and Civil Rights Achievements.

Rev. Wade, President and founder of Difference Makers, will be presented with the Outstanding Individual Citizen Award at a breakfast ceremony on Saturday, November 4th, 2017, from 8-9 a.m. at Salon D on the 2nd floor of the DoubleTree Hotel.

Wade and the Difference Makers are being recognized for demonstrating extraordinary vision and leadership in echoing the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. providing inspirational impact on the social issues of equality, justice and the humanitarian movement in the United States.

“The Arkansas Education Association understands that education advocacy and social justice advocacy go hand in hand,” said Curtis Freeman, chair of the HCR Committee. “We are thankful for the opportunity to recognize Rev. Wade and the Difference Makers for their work to lift the voices of those in need and advocate for opportunity for all students, no matter where they live.”

Rev. Wade said the Difference Makers of Hot Springs dedicated 2017 to addressing health disparities and the impact on “Healthy Communities” thru both access and impact of quality care. The Organization held several community health symposiums inviting Arkansas led healthcare organizations including the Arkansas Department of Health, UAMS, Baptist Health, local hospital administrators, and community stakeholders to convene for the first community-sponsored health discussion. This was one of several events to address local issues that impact the health and safety of the community’s underserved population.

Since 1979 the AEA HCR Committee has awarded honors to individuals in education or outside of the profession for a long-term or lifetime dedication to furthering human and civil rights. In 1986, the committee added an award for an individual, local association, or other organization to recognize a singular achievement in promoting human and civil rights.

The Arkansas Education Association is a professional organization for teachers, education support professionals, students and advocates. Our fundamental objective is to work for improved salaries, benefits, and working conditions for all education professionals, as well as for the betterment of the Arkansas state education system.

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National Teacher of the Year to Address AEA PD Conference Forrest Rozzell Lecture Features 2016 TOY Jahana Hayes

Little Rock, AR — Educators from across the state will learn new strategies and approaches to reach their students at the Arkansas Education Association’s 2017 Professional Development Conference.

The event will be held November 2 and 3 at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Little Rock. The conference features dozens of workshops, as well as the 40th  Annual Forrest Rozzell Lecture.

This year’s lecture, presented in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, is “Classroom to Community: Student Service Learning” by 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes.
“Our students need to know that they have value and can make a difference in this world,” Hayes said. “Service makes that real for them.” 

Throughout her career, Hayes has been honored time and time again for her unwavering dedication to her students inside and outside the classroom – a commitment Hayes inherited from the teachers who saw in her the potential to overcome the abject poverty that surrounded her childhood. 

“Teachers exposed me to a different world by letting me borrow books to read at home and sharing stories about their college experiences,” Hayes said. “So many things that [teachers do] fall outside of traditional teaching responsibilities. It is those times when I am transformed into an advisor, counselor, confidant and protector.” 

The lecture will be at the Clinton Presidential Center on Thursday (November 2) at 6 p.m., and is free and open to the public. Ms. Hayes will be available Thursday morning for interview requests.

Attendees will also be able to tour the newest temporary exhibits, including 
Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu, following the lecture.Jahana Hayes Fbook


2017 AEA Representative Assembly Delegates to Set AEA Policy

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The Representative Assembly is where Arkansas Education Association members set policies, priorities and the direction of AEA business.

At the RA delegates from local affiliates propose, debate, and take action on new business items for the Association. They also vote on proposed amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws.

The Representative Assembly (RA) consists of delegates representing local affiliates. These delegates are elected by their local association and represent preK-12 Educators, including Education Support Professionals, Student Members, Retired Members, and other segments.

The RA will be held on November 3-4, following the Professional Development Conference.

President’s Post

Every child deserves an opportunity to learn without the fear and distress that results from unfair immigration policies. As educators, we witness the impact of this trauma on our students, their families and our communities firsthand.  

In 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allowed immigrants who came to the United States as children to step out from under this fear and become contributing members of our communities.  

Arkansas is home to more than 10,000 of these “dreamers,” who are now able to study or work under DACA protectionDreamers are our neighbors and co-workers. They are our students in our schools and local colleges. Together we are Arkansans, and our friends, neighbors and students are again at risk.  

The Trump administration is reportedly considering eliminating protections extended under the DACA program. Breaking apart immigrant families and putting children in danger is a cruel, and counter-productive step away from the comprehensive immigration reform our country needs.  

We must ensure children aren’t punished for their parents’ actions, and instead embrace the skills and diversity these bright young people bring to our state. We will be stronger for it. 

The debate around immigration reform should include everyone who is ready to contribute, grow and enrich our future – that includes the innocent children who DACA seeks to protect.  

These children need your help. Please take one or all of these steps on their behalf. 

  • Call the White House comment line at 202-456-111 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. (central time) and ask the President to extend DACA. 
  • Call your members of Congress and ask them to publicly support Dreamers and to support legislation that would give them permanent protection. 

Senator John Boozman(202) 224-4843 

Senator Tom Cotton-(202) 224-2353 

Representative Rick Crawford 1st District-(202) 225-4076 

Representative French Hill 2nd District-(202) 225-2506 

Representative Steve Womack 3rd District-(202) 225-4301 

Representative Bruce Westerman 4th District-(202) 225-3772 


Cathy Signature

Cathy Koehler


April_Reisma-AEAWASHINGTON, DC (July 17, 2017) – The NEA Foundation today announced that April Reisma, a special education educator at Benton Junior High School in Benton, Ark., is one of 38 public educators who will receive the prestigious California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala next February in Washington, DC.

The California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence awardees are nominated by their peers for their dedication to the profession, community engagement, professional development, attention to diversity, and advocacy for fellow educators.

“Students who are going through any sort of issue know that they can come to my room for a break. I do not force them to talk to me, but I do make it known that I am there to listen and help if needed,” says Reisma.

Each year, the Salute to Excellence in Education Gala draws almost 1,000 supporters of public education, and thousands more online, to applaud these awardees. At the gala, the educators are truly the stars, celebrated throughout the night with music, performances, videos, and more. The evening gives educators well-deserved recognition for their hard work, personal dedication, and profound influence.

“These outstanding educators put heart and soul into supporting students and improving the profession,” says Harriet Sanford, NEA Foundation President and CEO. “We deeply appreciate California Casualty’s partnership in recognizing educators across the country.”

“We are glad to have the chance to show our respect and appreciation for the work of public school educators each year,” says Beau Brown, California Casualty CEO. “We applaud the great work of the California Casualty awardees.”

Of these 38 state awardees, who were nominated by their National Education Association state affiliate, five finalists will be announced at the beginning of the school year and

receive $10,000 at the gala. The nation’s top educator will be revealed at the gala on February 9, 2018 and receive an additional $25,000. The gala will be livestreamed at neafoundation.org.

The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards. Find more information about the awards and photos of the awardees.

About the NEA Foundation

The NEA Foundation is a public charity founded by educators for educators to improve public education for all students. Since our beginning in 1969, the Foundation has served as a laboratory of learning, offering funding and other resources to public school educators, their schools, and districts to solve complex teaching and learning challenges. We elevate and share educator solutions to ensure greater reach and impact on student learning. We believe that when educators unleash their own power, ideas, and voices, communities, schools, and students all benefit. Visit neafoundation.org for more information. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to our blog.