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Member & Activist Spotlight

Marnee Burrus: No One Thought We Could

Marnee Burrus is a third-grade teacher and #RedForEd inspired member from Phoenix, Arizona.
Image of Marnee Burrus
Published: June 14, 2021

I come from a union family that values public education, so both teaching and working to unite educators came naturally to me. And I’m very proud of the ways I’ve been able to contribute to the growth of my students—and the remarkable growth of my local.

I love teaching and I wanted to have a bigger impact on our profession, so when the Red for Ed started gaining momentum I knew I had to get involved. I knew that educators could play a bigger role in schools through a movement like this—and I was right. Significant gains have been made thanks to Red for Ed in our state, including the passage of Proposition 208, which increased funding to public education.

For me, personally, my work Red for Ed journey started with my local the Phoenix Elementary Classroom Teachers Association (PECTA). It is a good group of people and has had a positive impact on our schools, but some other teachers and I felt it could do more. We boosted the union to be more aggressive about things like classroom size and adequate prep time—and our membership grew dramatically.

PECTA more than doubled in one year with an aggressive membership campaign—and now has a majority of the certified staff in the district as active members.

No one thought we could increase membership that much.

I’d like to see it grow further and represent all the educators in these schools.

With our growth, I would like to see our union members more engaged in key issues and working to help politicians who support public education. I’d also like to strengthen our relationship with other locals so that we can share information and build our strength together.

I have been incredibly lucky to find a career that I love and one in which I find so much value. I consider it an extra blessing that I am perhaps able to have a broader impact on our schools through my work with the union and potentially as a school leader.


National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.