History of CEA
The Columbus Education Association can trace its origin back to the period immediately following the American Civil War. Although records are far from complete, CEA was originally the outgrowth of two organizations.
The Women's Teachers' Association of Columbus, Ohio, was the oldest of the merging bodies. It apparently was organized in 1871. The Women's Teachers' Association espoused the goals of "enlightening society and building the profession."
The Columbus Men's Teachers' Alliance can be traced from 1888. It held regular monthly business meetings. A recorded teacher's salary in 1894 was $375.00 a year.
In April of 1925, the two organizations came together and adopted the name of the Columbus Teacher Federation. At that time the articles of incorporation stated these purposes: "advancing the educational and common interests of the community; raising the standard of the teaching profession; cultivating a spirit of uniformity and good will among its members; promoting the mutual professional and material interests of the teachers; forming a representative body that can speak with authority for teachers; and, creating in the community at large a sharper sense of the goals of the teachers profession and of the importance of the interests which it represents." The teacher leaders signing the document were Bertha Jacobs, J. E. Newell, Arthur R. Leonard, O. C. Montgomery and Nina Kendall.
In June of 1951, the name was changed to the Columbus Education Association. Wesley Gongwer was President. He stated that some confusion had been generated by another organization with a similar name. Besides, CEA had developed a long time association with OEA and NEA so a similar name was thought to be appropriate.
In the late 1960's, the Association went through a major transition. It became more vocal about the profession. This activity culminated in the first written master agreement being approved in 1968-69. The CEA agreement was one of the first in Ohio. That same school year, a bargaining election was held and CEA was selected by 97.8% of the voting teachers over a rival group or a third choice of no representation. Thomas Giles was CEA President at that time. The first salary schedule had a Beginning Bachelor's salary of $6,600 and a Master's Maximum salary of $12,728.
CEA grew quickly in the next few years under the leadership of Presidents Jack Baker and Don Pierce. Negotiations and services grew under the able staff leadership provided by Jack Burgess. In 1974, CEA formally unified the previous loose affiliation (since 1921) with NEA.
Over three-fourths of the members favored the unification that made everyone a member of CEA/COTA/OEA/NEA. It assured a stronger state and national voice for teachers.
Ted Thomas served as President from 1974-1978. CEA really grew as an organization during this period. A five-day strike in 1975 made it very clear that teachers would not work unless their concerns were dealt with fairly. Although a strike is always a time of difficulty and loss, teachers had firmly stood up and respect was strongly achieved.
John Grossman became President in 1978. In recent years, CEA has had to face desegregation, reductions in force and serious financial crises; but it continues to move forward. The Association has helped create a number of innovative programs that have received national attention.
In 2004 Rhonda Johnson became the sixth CEA President. Rhonda had served as Vice President of CEA under John Grossman. Rhonda was a business teacher at Northwest Career Center before moving into the full time position as CEA Vice President. Rhonda is active in the community serving on the United Way Board of Franklin County, State of Ohio Consumer Council, and Associate General Chair of the United Way Campaign in 2004. Rhonda currently is active on numerous advisory committees for the NEA. Rhonda continues to represent the teachers of Columbus as an Associate and Chief member on TURN (Teacher Union Reform Network) and made numerous presentation at the National, Sate and University levels about the activities of CEA.
A series of major educational reform projects have been started in the last five years. This has helped keep Columbus teachers in a competitive position even though they work in a major urban district. The CEA remains committed to the goals of its founders as it looks toward the future of public education.