Remembering AEA Chief Paul Hubbert

If I were to go around campus and ask students what they thought of AEA, they’d probably give me that college student glossy-eyed-question-mark-face that we’ve all had before. But the reality is, the AEA has likely left a stamp on the lives of every student that goes to JSU.

The Alabama Education Association is the largest education association in the state of Alabama. It’s stated mission is to promote educational excellence by advocating for its members (teachers) and fighting for quality education.

In other words, the AEA is the teacher’s union in Alabama. In 1969, 35-year-old Paul Hubbert was selected as the Executive Secretary of the organization. The rest is history.

Hubbert joined forces with another organization called the Alabama State Teachers’ Association, the predominately black teachers’ organization. This merger formed one of the first interracial organizations in Alabama history.

Membership multiplied as the association opened to school support personnel. This blew the organization of 30,000 to a force-to-reckoned-with at over 100,000 members.

So what does the AEA have to do with you or me? This organization has been instrumental in education policy in the state of Alabama for decades; largely focused on securing the Education Trust Fund budget which funds schools and universities like JSU.

In 1972, the organization became the first in Alabama to form a political action committee (PAC) to support candidates that stood for public education and AEA’s mission. In 1974, the PAC raised about $76,000 for candidates. In 2010, the PAC spent more than $9.4 million on races in Alabama—as I said, a force to be reckoned with.

In 1990, Paul Hubbert ran for Governor looking to capitalize on a coalition he built as the head of AEA. He garnered an impressive 48 percent of the vote against incumbent Governor Guy Hunt, but ultimately lost.

In 2011, Hubbert wrote to 105,000 educators in the Alabama School Journal that his health would not allow him to continue the fight for education as the AEA chief. That year marked his retirement as one of the most influential men in Alabama politics for over 40 years.

In that time, AEA led the fight for education initiatives such as the Alabama Reading Initiative focused on ensuring Alabama students are reading at grade-level. It also fought for the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) which is focused on improving teaching in those fields.

This past Tuesday, the long-time leader of the largest education association and one most powerful political forces in Alabama, Dr. Paul Hubbert passed away of natural causes. Though he is gone and his day in power has passed, his legacy lives on and his stamp on history will continue to be felt by students and citizens in Alabama.

Brett Johnson
Staff Writer

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