2019 UEA House of Delegates
he UEA’s governing body, the House of Delegates, met Saturday, April 27, at Orem Junior High School. At the House, delegates heard reports on the status of the Association, discussed and adopted the UEA Legislative Platform and budget and adopted policies to govern the Association. More than 200 delegates, elected by their peers in each of the state’s local associations, participated in the 2019 House, along with 31 guests.
In addition, UEA President Heidi Matthews honored departing UEA Vice President Roger Donohoe who elected not to run for a second term. She also recognized departing board members Kathryn Parry, Dan Pitcher and Marty Davis who are participating in their last House of Delegates in their positions..
Report by NEA State Directors Mike Harman and Mindy Layton
Based on their experiences from the past year, NEA State Directors from Utah Mike Harman and Mindy Layton shared the top 10 highlights from their work during the year. These moments included:
No. 8: “We were able to share with our Utah Congressional delegation about the great things many of you are doing for students in Community Schools, and encourage them to learn more about how we can use a community school model to help close opportunity gaps that continue to exist within our communities,” said Layton.
No. 5: “In February, we encouraged support of a National recognition award for our ESP’s. This bill requires the Secretary of Education to establish the RISE, Recognizing Inspiring School Employees Award program. I am happy to report that this bill passed both chambers and was signed into law,” said Harman.
No. 4: “I am fortunate to sit on the Great Public Schools Committee. This year, in our lively discussion and work, I highlighted and shared the amazing professional practices from across our state. Each of us have a place at the table to continue to create Great Public Schools,” said Layton.
No. 1: “Representing you, the dedicated and tireless members of the Utah Education Association, at the National Education Board of Directors. We bring your stories and perspective to the national stage and ensure that your voice is heard,” said Harman.
Our Times Are Changing
Report by UEA Executive Director Brad Bartels
In his first address to the UEA House of Delegate since beginning his position as UEA Executive Director in January, Brad Bartels began by sharing a story about his first experience in organized labor at the age of 15. “I showed up to start my first job as a bagger in our neighborhood grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. I walked to work that night for my first evening shift, but when I got there the store was dark.” He explained that the grocery clerks of Local No. 7 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union had gone on strike for better working conditions and professional respect.
At the risk of losing his first job, the young Bartels joined the strikers. “The strike settled a few days later. And…I didn’t lose my job for joining the strikers on the picket line. I learned valuable lessons that day about the power of union values, professional respect, and solidarity which I have never forgotten.”
From that early experience, Bartels explained how he became a middle school teacher in the Denver Public School District and later a staff attorney and general counsel for the Colorado Education Association. He explained the many changes faced during his time in labor and education, including administering value-added standardized testing to measure student “competency,” hearing the rhetoric of “test and punish” used to tear apart neighborhood schools in favor of “capitalizing” education, and standing with thousands of my Denver brothers and sisters as they went on strike for increased professional respect and increased classroom resources for our students — just as they did this year. I was also privileged to advocate for teachers to preserve their rights and their profession.
“I have worked in state affiliates of the National Education Association for most of my professional career. One thing I hear repeatedly at all leadership levels of the organization is that ‘we hate change.’ I vigorously disagree,” concluded Bartels. “In talking with educators and policymakers all around the state and at the Capitol in recent months, it has become clear that there is a new urgency for changes to public education in Utah and across the nation. I have never seen the type of movement that has developed around Red For Ed. Educators are rising up all over the country and demanding professional respect and support for public education.”
“Together we can rise up and make a difference – for ourselves as professionals, and for our students! We need to continue to take action together. We need to continue to provide the promise of public education to our students, to prepare them as citizens and as persons for the challenges of the future. Together.”
Collective and Individual Responsibility
Report by UEA President Heidi Matthews
“There may not be an ‘I’ in team, but there is one in union and two in association,” said UEA President Heidi Matthews as she began her remarks to the 2019 UEA House of Delegates. “What does that mean for us? It means that when we come together today as the highest governing body of the Utah Education Association all of us recognize that to make a difference for public education and influence policies that impact our classroom and our profession that we have both a collective and an individual responsibility.”
Matthews invited delegates to “do some self-reflection” about their role in the association and how they can further the association’s goals and make it stronger. “You get where I’m going here, right? It’s along the lines of ‘ask not what your association can do for you, but what you can do for the association.’”
“The time for us to sit back and wait for others to do something for us is long past,” said Matthews. “If we want our association to succeed, we cannot just sit back, pay our dues and hope others will facilitate the changes our students and our profession demand. The change we need requires both the collective ‘we’ and the individual ‘I.’”
Report by NEA Executive Committee Member George Sheridan
NEA Executive Committee Member George Sheridan began his remarks to the 2019 UEA House of Delegates by pointing out that every generation has faced challenges. “Abraham Lincoln put it this way: we are a nation ‘dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.’ For generations of immigrants, the United States has been the land of opportunity. And since the mid-19th century, the foundation of both democracy and opportunity has been public education.”
The mission of the National Education Association, he said, is advocating for education professionals and uniting members and the nation to ensure every student can succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.
“When I was a child, I attended a whites-only school in the South,” said Sheridan. “We were told that slavery was good for Africans and we had a school holiday for the birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis but not the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. Public schools were segregated under the doctrine of ‘separate but equal.’ The truth is, they were rarely equal in such basic measures as facilities, textbooks, and per-pupil funding.”
Sheridan provided historical perspective on school segregation and the struggle to end racism. “Underlying…interpersonal racism is systemic and institutional racism – when an entire system is set up in such a way that people of color are systematically disadvantaged,” he said. He noted that in 2015, the NEA identified institutional racism in education as a major obstacle to the fulfillment of the association’s mission of ensuring that every student can succeed.
“I am not calling anyone in this room a racist,” said Sheridan. “But I am saying that all of us – me and you – work in a racist system. That is, we work in a system that is set up to produce racist results. Public education – the foundation of democracy and of opportunity – routinely disadvantages students of color. You can see the proof in unequal graduation rates, suspension and expulsion rates, and access to Honors and AP classes. You can often see it in the textbooks, curriculum and libraries available to students of color. Despite our intentions, despite your best efforts, the system is not set up to enable every student to succeed.”
“The challenge facing us is different from that facing Americans in the 1860’s. It is not the same as the challenge of the 1930’s and 1940’s. But like those challenges, it calls for collective action. Only collective action can get the adequate and equitable funding necessary to ensure that public education is in fact the cornerstone of our democracy, where education professionals empower all students to be the leaders of a just society.”
Action on House Bills, Budget, Other Business
The 2019 UEA House of Delegates adopted the 2020 UEA Legislative Platform and Priorities, UEA Resolutions, five New Business Items and the 2019-20 UEA budget.
UEA Legislative Platform & Support Positions—
Delegates at the House approved the UEA Legislative Platform & Support Positions and Legislative Priorities for 2020 with no changes from the previous year.
Each year, the House adopts UEA Resolutions to state the official UEA position on various topics. The House approved a few changes to the 2019-20 Resolutions. One change urged the association to promote the retention of experienced education professionals through “enhanced salaries, benefits, professional compensation for additional duties beyond the established school day/year, a supportive and respectful work environment, a reasonable workload, a secure pension and retirement packages that reward extended years of service.”
New Business Items—
Five new business items were proposed and adopted by the House of Delegates:
- New Business Item No. 1 requires the UEA to make available electronic options for participation in standing committee meetings, task force meetings, local president meetings board of director meetings and other association business meetings.
- New Business Item No. 2 creates an “Equity Justice and Inclusion task force” to assess the needs of the association related to white-supremacy culture, including institutional racism. The task force is charged with assessing UEA member attitudes; reviewing current UEA rules, policies and practices; and reporting findings to the UEA Board of Directors by October 2021.
- New Business Item No. 3 directs the UEA to address a growing mental health crisis among both educators and students by providing mental health resources on the UEA website and in publications, offering mental health sensitivity and crisis management training for leaders, offering training and resources for all members on trauma informed practices, and encouraging community outreach and networking by local associations statewide.
- New Business Item No. 4 directs the UEA president to form a task force to study the UniServ funding formula and provide recommendations to the UEA Board of Directors.
- New Business Item No. 5 directs the UEA to research and analyze the relationship between the Council of Local Presidents and the UEA Board of Directors and propose changes in governing documents.
2019-20 UEA Budget—
UEA Executive Director Brad Bartels presented the proposed 2019-20 UEA budget, which was provided to each delegate prior to attendance. Previously approved by the UEA Budget and Audit Committee, the UEA Rules and Resolutions Committee and the UEA Board of Directors, the proposed budget was adopted by the House of Delegates.