Arkansas State Teachers Association
The Arkansas State Teachers Association (ASTA) is a professional organization for education professionals that adheres to a non-union and non-partisan operation policy. Professional membership in ASTA is open to any employee of an educational entity—certified, non-certified, and classified. ASTA is unrelated to an earlier organization which went by the same name and later became the Arkansas Education Association (AEA).
The roots of ASTA intertwine with its national organization, the Association of American Educators (AAE). AAE was established in 1994. In 2001, groundwork began for an AAE affiliate in Arkansas. ASTA was established in 2004. ASTA and AAE are licensed by the IRS as 501(c)(6) professional trade organizations. Like organizations it partners with in other states, ASTA works collaboratively with local education stakeholders—parents, students, teachers, administrators, and the community—to build support for improvement and innovations in the educational system. In 2008, ASTA brought nationally known teacher Guy Doud to speak in El Dorado (Union County), and the organization sponsored a drive the following year to collect school supplies for the local school district in Cabot (Lonoke County).
Benefits of ASTA membership include liability insurance coverage, access to legal assistance, stakeholder status at the state and national levels concerning education policy, teacher scholarship opportunities, professional development resources, frequent updates on federal education initiatives and happenings, newsletters, and supplemental insurance plans. In addition, ASTA offers classroom grants to member teachers for special projects, such as a September 2009 “Constitution Week” carnival staged at Beebe Middle School. Membership with ASTA includes automatic membership with the national partner, AAE, at no additional fee.
For additional information:
Arkansas State Teachers Association. http://www.astapro.org/ (accessed March 9, 2022).
Association of American Educators. http://www.aaeteachers.org/ (accessed March 9, 2022).
Arkansas State Teachers Association
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On April 22, 1994, when ASTA was still called the Arkansas Teachers Association, they held a “Gathering of Christians” in Harrison, Arkansas. According to Jim Parsons, who served as the ATA state director at the time, attendees included: Bob Hestor, Jonesboro (American Family Association); Jay Cole, Fayetteville (Call to Action); Bob and Bruxie Myshka, Jonesboro (Christian Coalition); Steve and Laura Nichols, Van Buren (Christians for Excellence in Education); Jerry Cox, Little Rock (Family Council); Bestey Hagen, Little Rock, and State Senator Peggy Jeffries, Fort Smith (both representing Eagle Forum).
On May 27, 1994, the Arkansas Education Association (AEA) sent a cease and desist letter to ATA state director Jim Parsons, pointing out that the name “Arkansas Teachers Association” had already been used. Less than a month later, the ATA bceame the Arkansas Christian Educators Association (ACEA), an affiliate of Christian Educators Association International (CEAI). Governor Mike Huckabee was the keynote speaker for the ACEA’s first annual state convention.
In August 1995, Jim Parsons and the ACEA were prohibited from recruiting new members at the Ozarks Unlimited Resources Educational Cooperative in Harrison because they were “mixing church and state.” This sparked a federal lawsuit, which ultimately reinforced the separation between religion and public education in Arkansas.