Pea Plays Crucial Role In Education


Less than 20 years ago, the Payson Education Association was a growing, vibrant organization that played a role in making the crucial decisions affecting our children.

The group's leaders -- Tim Fruth, Jerry McSweeney and Hans Schoenborn -- often sat down with former superintendent Sharkey Baker to discuss ways of meeting the challenges facing the school district.

The PEA had clout, mostly because a majority of the teachers in the school district were members.

For a variety of reasons, membership in the PEA began to dwindle. Some members said they were leaving due to disagreements with the Arizona and National Education Association, which are parent organizations of the PEA, stands on certain issues.

As membership dropped in the early 1990s, then-superintendent Russ Kinzer seized the opportunity to form the Superintendent's Advisory Council which shredded the PEA of its power. Members of SAC are dedicated, hard-working professionals who deserve praise for their commitment to improving education.

But there's also a need for organizations like PEA, AEA and NEA. All can help legislators on the local, state and national scene better understand the challenges facing educators.

The leadership of the PEA proved over the past several months that there is room for such an organization by making a stand against the proposed changes in the Payson Unified School District's grievance policy. Monday night, the school board voted to leave the grievance policy intact.

With 30,000 members, the AEA is the largest professional organization in the state. The NEA represents more than 2.7 million teachers and is actively involved in a mission to improve our nation's public schools.

With National Education Week celebrated Nov. 14 to 20, maybe it's time educators took a second look at joining forces with the organizations to help strengthen confidence in our schools and improve the professional lives of teachers.

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