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2014 UEA Legislative Priorities

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A Message to Utah Legislators

Utah public school educators are overwhelmed. Our state has the nation’s largest class sizes and lowest per-student funding. Each year brings hundreds of proposed new laws and policy changes impacting classrooms. Just keeping pace is an incredible burden on our teachers.

In addition, Utah per-student public education funding has declined 9.6% since the beginning of the Great Recession. With 1% on the WPU required to maintain mandatory Social Security and retirement costs and 1.5% expected inflation, schools need a 2.5% WPU increase just to maintain current funding levels. In other words, 2.5% on the WPU = ZERO increase. A return to pre-recession funding levels would cost $420 million.

The UEA asks policymakers to consider these conditions during the 2014 Utah Legislative Session.

These priorities were developed in collaboration with hundreds of teachers across Utah. We urge policymakers to consider the following when contemplating legislation:

Education Funding

  • Fully fund new student growth for the coming school year.

  • Return public education funding to pre-recession levels over a three-year period by allocating $158.8 million in restored funding as follows:

    • Increase the WPU by 4% to cover inflation costs and allow school districts to provide modest cost-of-living adjustments for employees ($108 million).

    • Fund retirement and Social Security as a separate budget line item ($27 million).

    • Restore a portion of educator professional development funding ($23.3 million).

  • Reject the siphoning off of precious education dollars to unproven and unaccountable education experiments

  • (See more about the state education budget here)

Teacher Morale

  • Reduce the number of education bills and policy changes.

  • Advocate for valid and reliable school accountability measures.

  • Allow additional time to implement the educator evaluation program in order to ensure validity and reliability.

  • Increase opportunities and time for teacher collaboration.

  • Allow time for full implementation and evaluation of 2012’s comprehensive education reform bill (SB64) before considering additional legislation or rules that would impede this work.

Other Issues

  • Support non-partisan election of school board members.

  • Reject bills designed to attack teachers and their professional associations.

  • Establish a level playing field for evaluation of educators and students in charter and online schools.

  • Look to educators as the experts on public education issues.