About the AEA
Established in 1946 and independent since 1978, the Akron Education Association is one of the largest independent teacher unions in the country. The Association represents more than 2000 teachers and support staff in the Akron Public Schools. The Association works toward improved teaching conditions, wages that attract and retain quality teachers, as well as the betterment of student welfare.
The Association also assists with issues common to other urban school districts and teachers in Ohio, through its membership in such organizations as The Coalition for Public Education, and the Ohio Eight Coalition. The Ohio Big 8 consists of the union presidents and superintendents of the eight large Ohio urban school districts.
Like the names of most Akron teachers, these names are familiar to thousands of Akron Public School graduates whose lives they have touched but, in the case of these teachers, their influence reached far beyond their classrooms.
These were the teachers who formed the Akron Education Association, set its goals, and guided its early years.
A generation ahead of their time, these Akron teachers were among the first to demand that women be paid the same as men. In 1947 teacher salaries were determined individually. As a result, most women teachers earned less than the men. A single salary schedule was one of the first goals accomplished by the Association.
AEA leaders also prodded the district into improving its economic well-being. When the Association was formed, Akron lagged behind other Ohio cities in support for its schools. AEA's early leaders lobbied hard for a school levy that would move Akron off the bottom of the list of tax support among Ohio's large city school districts.
The result was a decade of construction. Temporary wooden barracks that had served as classrooms around the city were destroyed. New schools were built, additions were constructed, and facilities were renovated. Through the AEA, teachers continued to challenge the schools and the community to provide conditions where every child could have a fair chance to succeed. But the association was as much of a booster as a critic, and the opinions of the leadership were regularly sought by members of the school board and administration.
Soon after the Association marked its first decade, the newspaper reported that Akron School Superintendent Martin Essex "believes a strong teachers' association, such as the AEA, is good for education and the best instrument in protecting a teacher's interests." Akron teachers agreed. A 1962 news story reported that 98 percent of Akron teachers belonged to the Association.
In 2011, the Association joined with other public and private sector unions in Summit County to form a coalition that worked with the We Are Ohio campaign to repeal Senate Bill 5, an anti-teacher / anti-union bill that stripped away nearly all collective bargaining rights for teachers and other public employees in Ohio. Teachers and other public servants collected more than a million signatures to place SB 5 on the ballot. SB5, which became ballot Issue 2, was soundly defeated by a 61% to 39% margin. During hearings, Association members were pictured on the cover of Education Week (see below).
To assist with issues common to other urban school districts and teachers in Ohio, the Association belongs to such organizations as The Coalition for Public Education, and the Ohio Eight Coalition. The Ohio Big 8 consists of the union presidents and superintendents of the eight large Ohio urban school districts.
Activities of the Association today continue to be devoted to the original goals set by the charter members: improved teaching conditions, betterment of student welfare, higher teacher standards, and wages that attract and retain quality teachers.