Remarks by ANITA GIBSON, PRESIDENT ALABAMA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, Reporting out on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Alabama Education Association
As Prepared for delivery:
Good morning and I welcome you to this meeting of the Board of the Alabama Education Association.
Our first order of business today is for me to stand and report on behalf of the board on actions this board took yesterday.
The Alabama Education Association (AEA) has faced many threats over the years and has always prevailed. AEA faced another serious threat that we have begun to address to ensure the association is on a positive path forward.
In a September letter to Association members and leaders, retired Alabama Education Association (AEA) Executive Secretary-Treasurer Dr. Paul Hubbert alerted the association’s leadership of “an immediate danger, in fact crisis” as related to AEA’s current finances. Dr. Hubbert’s letter attributed the crisis to financial challenges, declining membership, risky investments, and the loss of influence. Dr. Hubbert called for AEA to conduct an independent audit of the Association’s finances.
The AEA board immediately called for and saw completed a comprehensive independent audit of AEA’s finances and operations. The board was briefed in detail on the findings of the audits yesterday and the recommended remedies and actions we must take to ensure we can restore our Association to its former strength and vitality. The audit affirmed serious concerns about a lack of financial controls, appropriate checks and balances and substantial evidence of the failure of our Executive Secretary-Treasurer to meet his obligations toward the sound financial operation of AEA.
As a result, the board passed a motion to provide NOTICE TO THE CURRENT EXECUTIVE SECRETARY TREASURER OF A PRE-TERMINATION HEARING.
This was a difficult decision by the Board but one that was necessary to close a difficult chapter in AEA’s recent past and turn to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead. We cannot and we will not dwell on the past but must move forward and build for the future.
We must address as an Association the losses suffered by AEA over the last several years. Today, we have begun the process to face these challenges head on, to right the ship, and put AEA on a better path for the future.
We must take steps to return AEA to strength and vibrancy. The recommendations laid out in the audit reports plot a path to financial and operational stability. We could not have accomplished that without the leaders of this Board coming together to act in concert to put our Association on a sounder footing.
To ensure the efficient and effective implementation of the financial and operational plans for AEA, the board passed a motion to request that NEA partner with AEA so that swift and appropriate action can be taken to safeguard AEA and its members.
Through this partnership we can access national expertise and resources to put in place the financial and operational changes needed to ensure the strength of our association. And, while we have the partnership, it is Alabama leaders that took action to create solutions for this association and it will be Alabama values and leaders that will be a guiding light for our association as we chart a new course.
As a result of the leadership of this Board and the actions yesterday, we are ready to turn the page and we are ready to redouble our efforts to fight for the needs of our students, our schools and Alabama’s educators.
In less than two weeks we will see the start of a new legislative session with a host of opportunities and challenges.
We must continue our fight against the creation of charters that will rob our community schools of funding and local control.
We must renew our efforts to secure funding for libraries, technology, textbooks and other resources our students need to compete in the 21st century.
We must ensure that all education professionals receive adequate compensation and fully funded healthcare and retirement benefits.
Our house will be set in order, but now we must turn our sights from our house to the preservation of the school house and the support of each and every student and adult in those schools and ensuring that no matter what zip code they live in, regardless of their family income or the color of their skin, that each and every student has the time, tools and resources to be successful.