Phyllis Runyon named new IEA president

July 6, 2010

By Staff

Phyllis Runyon

Taking up the helm at the Issaquah Education Association is Phyllis Runyon, a speech and language pathologist with the Issaquah School District.

In coming years, Runyon will guide the teachers’ association through many challenges that will face them locally as education is reformed at the state and national levels, said former President Neva Luke, who retired June 30.

Runyon answered a few questions by e-mail about her new position.

What do you feel the association’s mission is?

Our mission is to work with the district to provide the best working conditions possible for educators, so they can focus on their job of providing an excellent education for the students of Issaquah.

Why is a strong association important?

Our community expects well-educated students. To provide this, we must attract and retain the highest quality of educators possible. The association is made up of about 1,000 members, and when they are able to do their jobs well, the whole community benefits.

How do you feel the association has changed in the last 10 years?

The focus of the association has broadened. Our jobs have always been political, but that has extended into education reform, ESEA (No Child Left Behind), and any number of political forces that affect our members — not to mention the economic woes that our state faces that affect our schools. Issaquah alone has experienced more than $10 million in cuts over the last two years.

What do you feel is the most challenging thing the association will face in the coming year? How do you plan to tackle it?

Educators have become the scapegoat for anything wrong with education in this country. I believe this is fallout from the effort to dismantle public education. The irony of this political attitude is that educators are the heart and soul of public education. They make it work. I want to remind those who want to change to a corporate model that our students are not a single product. They are individuals with individual needs and goals. We can’t help them reach their goals when we have to compete for funding and focus on test results rather than how to prepare our students to be responsible, productive citizens.

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