Latest News


Arkansas schools implementing new ‘Science of Reading’ curriculum (

Mar 6, 2024

AEA was asked to weigh in on privatizing reading instruction. We need public money to stay in public schools so that students can get quality education from qualified educators.

Read the entire Little Rock Public Radio article here.

Arkansas charter schools ‘raise some red flags’, after getting D and F grades (

Mar 5, 2024

There is a growing issue of charter schools in Arkansas receiving D and F grades. Poverty is a real issue here in Arkansas, and that certainly leads to poor performance at school. Kids need to have their basics taken care of like food, safety, shelter, and love, before they can even think about learning. We need to have some sort of measuring tool for school performance, but it cannot only be based on a final test at the end of the year.

Read the entire KATV article here.

Arkansas group pushes for a constitutional amendment to boost Arkansas education (

Mar 3, 2024

As part of the ForARKids Coalition, AEA is all in on making sure our students and staff have all they need to grow and thrive.

Read the entire KATV article here.

New poll shows favorability for Arkansas LEARNS Act as education association calls foul

Dec 12, 2023

A new statewide poll on education in Arkansas shows a majority of parents polled are in support of key elements of the LEARNS Act but some in educational leadership roles are calling foul.

Robert Coon, managing partner at Impact Management Group, a public affairs and public research firm in Little Rock, said ExcelinEd, a nonprofit organization out of Florida asked his group to conduct the survey.

The poll, conducted between Aug. 24 and Sept. 8, surveyed 800 registered voters who have children in K-12 grades.

“We tested a couple of different components of the LEARNS Act,” Coon said. “One dealt with Education Freedom Accounts (EFA’s), one dealt with teacher salaries, but we wanted to make sure that we were looking at what are the viewpoints of folks in various demographics.”

Read the entire KATV article here.

Gov. Lee looks at Arkansas program to create Tennessee’s private school voucher proposal

Dec 11, 2023

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – Gov. Bill Lee was joined by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders as Tennessee proposed a statewide school voucher program in Tennessee.

Arkansas families were already using tax dollars for private schooling.

“The voucher program is something we’ve been fighting for a long, long time,” Arkansas Education Association president April Reisma said.

Reisma was against the program in Arkansas and Tennessee. She said she wants to keep this money for public schools.

“Taking that money away from public education and taking it away from students; don’t do it. It’s a horrible, horrible hole going down,” Reisma said.

Read the entire WVLT article here.

AEA President Carol B. Fleming Statement on House Passage of Unvetted Voucher Bill Lawmakers continue to ignore calls to slow down extreme bill or answer questions about potential negative impacts on children

Mar 2, 2023
CONTACT: Liz Picone, Arkansas Education Association


Little Rock, ARKANSAS — Today the House passed SB294, the sweeping voucher reform bill introduced by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders little more than two weeks ago.

Despite calls from educators, parents, disability advocates and others to slow down and answer questions about the bill’s negative impact on students, public schools, educators and families, the legislators continue to move the bill towards passage at breakneck speed.

Speech-language pathologist, twin mom, and Arkansas Education Association President Carol B. Fleming released the following statement in response:

“The voices of hundreds of educators, parents, disability advocates and others have been ignored by those who represent us. Despite pleas to our legislators to slow down and answer questions about the negative impact this bill could have on our children, it continues its sprint through the capital.

“The best decisions for our students are made with teachers and parents at the table. Educators have spent countless hours combing through the bill’s 144 pages and each time we come away with more questions than answers. At every turn, our requests to meet with the governor or the bill’s authors have been ignored or deflected.  

“If supporters of the bill are so confident about it, why are they trying to push it through so quickly without meaningful discussions? What are they afraid of and what’s in there that they don’t want us to know?”

Educators: There are higher priorities for improving public schools than voucher schemes

Feb 9, 2023
CONTACT: Liz Picone, Arkansas Education Association

Vouchers take scarce funding from public schools and give it to unaccountable private schools

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-Arkansas) introduced her omnibus education reform package Wednesday, called the Arkansas LEARNS plan, that would increase teachers’ salaries in exchange for implementing unpopular and destructive voucher schemes.

The following statement can be attributed to Arkansas Education Association President Carol B. Fleming:

“Every student deserves a well-rounded curriculum that will nurture imagination and a desire to learn. This mission is what Arkansas educators wake up every day working for. Spending money on voucher programs means denying students the opportunities they deserve in their neighborhood public schools. When our leaders choose to fund voucher programs, they pick and choose which children can pursue their dreams. Educators, parents, guardians, and students should be very concerned about the proposal’s impact.

“Vouchers take scarce funding away from public schools and give it to private schools that are unaccountable to the public. Arkansas needs to focus on investing in our public schools — where 90 percent of our children go — instead of diverting money from them to give to the 10 percent who attend private schools. By taking funding away for public schools, vouchers will harm rural communities, where public schools are popular and remain the only option for most students.

“The Arkansas Education Association has long been a leader in advocating for increasing the salaries of Arkansas’ hardworking and dedicated teachers to help us recruit and retain high-quality educators in every classroom. While we’re encouraged to see this issue of low teacher pay addressed after years of our advocacy, we urge the Arkansas state legislature to do so without harming students through voucher schemes.

“There are higher priorities for improving public schools. If we’re serious about every child’s future, let’s get serious about doing what works. And what works is resourcing our neighborhood public schools so that all students have inviting classrooms, a well-rounded curriculum, class sizes that are small enough for one-on-one attention, and support services such as health care, nutrition, and after-school programs for students who need them.”

Three Things To Know

Nov 17, 2022


Across the country, there are 3+ million education support professionals (ESPs) in our schools. The work they do is integral in ensuring our school communities are safe and nurturing learning spaces, so our students are provided the education they deserve to prepare them to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world. Annually,

Education Support Professionals Day is celebrated during American Education Week which is in November.  Our ESPs are the first and last educators who see our children beginning with our professional school bus drivers who get our students to & from school safely. Support professionals maintain our school facilities; prepare healthy meals;  manage the school finances and services; provide education support; and so much more. 


Attendees from the AEA Professional Development conference will be receiving emails from Angela Jones in the following weeks. These emails will ask participants to complete a survey/evaluation to receive credit for the sessions attended. Please be patient as it takes weeks to generate, collate, and submit the certificates to our attendees. If your district has any questions, please feel to reach out to the office and we will be glad to assist in explaining the process and timeline.


As a reminder, AEA is seeking nominations for Board Seats, Elected Officers, AEA-Retired Sec/Treasurer, AEA-Retired Delegates to the 2023 AEA Representative Assembly, and delegates to the NEA 2023 Representative Assembly. The deadline to submit a nomination is Friday, December 2, 2022. More information can be found here.


United. Together – A Stronger Voice


#payAReducators sit-in at ALC

Jul 25, 2022

Grassroots parents, educators and public-school advocates attended the July 21st meeting of the Arkansas Legislative Council and called on lawmakers to prioritize educator pay increases during the upcoming Special Session. 

AEA helped to support the grassroots led event, where attendees wore #RedforED and welcomed lawmakers as they arrived for the meeting. They then gathered on the Capitol steps to explain the urgent need to increase pay so Arkansas’s students have qualified educators in their schools. AEA President Carol Fleming called on the Governor to include educator pay raises on the call for the special session, and for lawmakers to prioritize Arkansas’s students when considering how to invest the state’s record surplus.


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Fleming said while longterm funding for increased pay could be addressed during the adequacy process, it’s unconscionable to prioritize tax cuts while the state has the lowest-paid teachers in the region and is second-to-last in the nation.

“With a more than $1.6 billion surplus, we have an opportunity to take immediate action to address the shortage of qualified educators in our state,” she said. “The way we spend our money reflects our values.

“What could be more important than making sure that our students have the state’s top talent running our classrooms? Our students deserve to have highly qualified and highly paid educators in our classrooms.” READ THE FULL STORY


40/29 News: The minimum salary for teachers in Arkansas is $36,000 a year. That puts Arkansas last in the region and second-to-last in the country, according to Carol Fleming, Arkansas Education Association president.

“It is about being able to put food on the table,” Fleming said. “But also we have about a quarter of our educators who are considering either leaving the profession entirely or retiring.” WATCH THE FULL STORY



THV11: “Why are those legislators not willing to put money into our public schools,” Carol Fleming, Arkansas Education Association president said.

She added that she’s hopeful Governor Asa Hutchinson will add to the agenda for the special session set for August.

“Let our legislators know, those who represent us, that this is an important issue and we need to address this,” Fleming said. WATCH THE FULL STORY


KARK:  Kimberly Crutchfield started in the classroom 23 years ago. She says her first paycheck was $600.

“I had to drop my insurance until I go up to a step where I could afford the insurance,” said Crutchfield.

She says she began advocating for higher pay shortly after.

More than two decades later, she’s still fighting the same fight.

“We knew we weren’t going to be millionaires, but we didn’t think we would have to go on public assistance either,” said Crutchfield. WATCH THE FULL STORY


KARK CAPITOL VIEW: On Capitol View this week, AEA President Carol Fleming told lawmakers the one-time bonus recommendation won’t pay next year’s bills, and called on lawmakers to use some of the state’s record surplus to immediately boost educator pay. WATCH THE FULL STORY


AEA Welcomes Interim Executive Director

Mar 30, 2022

Liz Picone Brings Decades of Association Experience 

The Arkansas Education Association is excited to announce Liz Picone has taken the helm of the state’s largest professional organization for educators as Interim Executive Director.  

Picone will lead the organization over the next six to eight months while the AEA Board of Directors conducts a search for a new director and plans to immediately focus on membership growth. 

“Arkansas teachers and education support professionals are at the heart of all we do and the source of AEA’s power,” Picone said. “Our members allow us to provide professional development programming, educator support and advocacy for students and educators at the local and state level.” 

Picone is now in her 28th year of association staff experience. She brings a wealth of experience as an Organizational Specialist serving National Education Association members across the country from Pre-K to Higher Ed. Picone has worked in more than 35 states assisting with membership campaigns, political campaigns, leadership development, coaching staff and serving as a thought partner for Executive Directors. 

Liz taught Orchestra in the Texas Public Schools for 13 years before she began her association career. 

“Coming from the classroom, I know the value of an organization that has your back and amplifies educator voice,” she said. “Over the last three decades, I’ve seen the incredible things educators can accomplish when we work together, and I look forward to working with Arkansas educators to spread the word about AEA’s work to improve student learning conditions and school employee working conditions.” 

The recruitment drive will begin April 1st, when educators can enroll early to receive benefits for free through the remainder of this school year.  

“Early Enrollment is a wonderful opportunity for educators to join the association and discover the many benefits of membership,” Picone said. “We also look forward to a return to more normal back to school events following years of disruption brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.”  

Picone holds degrees from the University of Kansas and Eastern Illinois University. She also holds administration and supervisor certifications from the University of Houston and Sam Houston State University. Picone is a graduate of the Harvard Trade Union program and one of a select group of Association Executives that qualify for the Certified Association Executive (CAE). The CAE credential is the marker of a committed association professional who has demonstrated the wide range of knowledge essential to manage an association in today’s challenging environment. 

She replaces former Executive Director Tracey Ann-Nelson, who left the association for another position following seven years at AEA.