Presentation of Arkansas State Teachers Association to Little Rock School Board, May 29, 2014

Posted By Michele Linch, PhD

Good evening. I’m Michele Linch, executive director of the Arkansas State Teachers Association or ASTA. I’m here tonight for a couple of reasons. First, we want you to know more about ASTA because, as the fastest growing education association in Arkansas, we are naturally serving a growing number of Little Rock School District teachers and other staff.

ASTA is a non-union, non-partisan professional association and a state affiliate of the non-union Association of American Educators. For only $16.50/month or $198/year, members receive a $2 million liability/legal insurance policy in their own names, access to support services from local professional and legal staff, professional development opportunities, advocacy based on member feedback, access to a huge discount program for goods and services, supplemental insurance policies, and more. Additionally, our members can join at any time and, out of respect for whom we serve, a member can leave at any time.   

Another benefit ASTA provides is a grant and scholarship program. It is available to both members and non-members. Applications are blind scored, and just last week I received the scores with the names and districts revealed. This leads to the second reason I’m here.  Two Chicot Elementary teachers have received $500 scholarships to apply toward their graduate work this summer. We were excited to see that!

We look forward to supporting LRSD’s vision and mission as we serve teachers and other employees of the District. Rest assured, we have the local and national professional staff to support them.

I hold a PhD focused on adolescent curriculum and learning and was a science teacher in one of the highest performing middle schools in Texas. Our student population was 85% FRL and 98% minority. We had amazing leadership who aligned resources in terms of money, space, people and time in order to put students first. Our academic PLCs, or teams, started meeting every single day as we moved to the middle level concept. We had roles, agendas, minutes and amazing professional development. You see, we didn’t have parental involvement, and too many kids were falling through the cracks. That’s why we had to meet every day. We understood we could not afford to wait around for the perfect conditions.

That traditional public school, in the Oakcliff community of Dallas, with over 2,300 7th and 8th graders, eventually excelled to where over 90% of students were passing their benchmark exams, and students being served through special education outscored the district’s regular education kids in some areas. One thing I learned from teaching in high expectations, no excuses school is that I didn’t need someone making excuses for me. I needed support and great leadership whose hands weren’t tied.

That is what we offer ASTA members – support through a lens of excellence and high expectations. Thank you for your time, congratulations on your scholarship recipients, and let me know how ASTA can serve LRSD or if you have any other questions.

Previous Post
Silver Lining: Academic Distress Brings School Choice, Transportation to Trapped Students
Next Post
An Open Letter to Central Arkansas Teachers