2020 UEA House of Delegates
In yet another of many ‘firsts’ we’re experiencing this year, the UEA House of Delegates met virtually on Saturday, September 21, to conduct association business as required by UEA Bylaws. The House of Delegates is the UEA’s highest governing body, meeting annually to determine the policies to be carried out by the Board of Directors and to conduct other business. The House consists of the UEA Board of Directors and elected delegates representing each local association, each UniServ, UEA retired members and the UEA student program. Each attending delegate is entitled to one vote.
This year’s House was also unique because of its limited agenda due to limitations of conducting the meeting online. Prior to the meeting, delegates voted to limit the agenda to primarily those items required by UEA Bylaws, forgoing any Resolutions or New Business Items. Delegates heard reports on the status of the Association and discussed and adopted the UEA Legislative Platform and the 2020-21 UEA budget. Nearly 200 delegates and guests participated in 2020 UEA House of Delegates.
Report by NEA State Directors Mike Harman and Mindy Layton
Calling this “an interesting year,” NEA State Directors from Utah Mike Harman and Mindy Layton shared “some good news on the advocacy front that have led to legislative wins for students and educators,” thanks to advocacy efforts of the National Education Association.
“One of the final funding bills for fiscal year 2020 included significant increases for programs targeting the students most in need – $450 million more for Title I, $410 million more for IDEA and $550 million more for Head Start,” said Layton. “This same bill expanded funding for full-service community schools by 43%. The bill provided the first increase in six years for Title II, which includes Professional development and class-size reduction and the first increase in five years for English language learners.”
“Another Bill enacted in December authorized $255 million per year in ongoing funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” noted Harman. “There was also $7.6 billion for the Census Bureau to help ensure everyone is counted. This is especially important regarding the appropriate distribution of federal funding for education, children’s health, and other public services.”
“For those of you that had the opportunity to participate in the 2020 Representative Assembly, it was also one for the record books. It was completely virtual with a limited agenda and no New Business Items, which made for a much shorter, but also certainly less interesting meeting,” said Harman.
“We are humbled and honored to represent you and your colleagues on the National Education Association Board of Directors,” said Layton. She concluded by thanking delegates for “your dedication to education equity and your passion for our education profession.”
Report by UEA Executive Director Brad Bartels
“This has been a year of great challenge and great progress for the Utah Education Association,” said UEA Executive Director Brad Bartels as he addressed delegates. “It has also been a year of national crisis, as we have come to grips with a devastating pandemic and the ongoing tragedy of institutional racism in our nation.” He went on to say that, “in decades of teaching and service to educators, I have never experienced the range of challenges that have arisen this year.”
“I am happy to report today that the UEA is strong. Our members have been quick to adapt to changing demands in the public schools in order to support our children, our families and our communities. The UEA has been irrepressible and has shown incredible resilience during this demanding time,” he said.
Bartels noted the difficulties of managing through a pandemic that “changed everything for the UEA.” He said that through the growing COVID-19 threat the UEA staff worked to adjust to remote work without compromising the quality of support for UEA leaders and members. “The UEA staff and members have continued to work hard together on membership organizing increase our membership during the last year.” About 300 educators signed as UEA members during the Early Enrollment period and hundreds more have joined through the ‘Recruit Today! Join Now’ campaign, he said. “The UEA is leading the way among similar states in the west in recruiting and retaining members.”
Legislative activities noted by Bartels included the highly successful UEA Educator Day on the Hill program, the UEA Day of Action at the State Capitol on February 28, and the Salt Lake Education Association’s Walk for Students. These activities and other efforts “directly resulted in the passage of pro-public education bills and the defeat of other bills that would have weakened the profession and the educational opportunities provided to Utah public school students,” he said. “In March, due to the efforts of our legislative team, our education partners, and especially the activism of our members, the UEA helped to secure historic increases in education funding – hundreds of millions of additional dollars for our schools.”
“Going forward, the UEA will redouble our efforts to ensure funding to provide for increasing educational opportunities and equity for all of Utah’s students,” said Bartels. “UEA staff, our leaders and our members will begin the work of putting our new strategic goals and objectives into practice. We will work toward more effective communication, organizing, and professional learning opportunities. And…we will continue to work hard to continue to identify and eradicate institutional racism in all of its forms, to ensure that our public schools provide equitable learning opportunities for all of our children.”
Report by UEA President Heidi Matthews
They are moments captured in history, seared in our memories and that will forever mark this time…the year we experienced a world-wide pandemic, earthquakes, hurricane winds, job losses, civil rights movement. “And still we keep on serving our students, our families – each other and our Association,” began UEA President Heidi Matthews as she addressed delegates.
“When I reflect on this year, this unprecedented year, time seems to have a foggy quality, with days upon weeks that seem to blur together punctuated by distinct moments of clarity,” she said. “Moments transpired that we could not ever have foreseen – think Rudy Gobert, natural disasters, a Zoom way of life, travelling internet hot spots in school busses, grab-and-go food for families, daily COVID numbers and Governor announcements, (Legislative) Special Sessions, toilet paper shortages, quarantines, face mask as an industry – and for some of us a fashion statement.”
In addition to many new moments, there are many moments we missed, explained Matthews. “Moments like our in-person (House of Delegates) originally scheduled for April 24th, Summer Leadership Academy, Superstars in Education (banquet), in-person leader meetings, Board of Directors, Council of Local Presidents, the NEA Representative Assembly – and our last time sitting up front…We miss human contact, hugs, facial expressions, spontaneity. Personally, I miss my parents, who I haven’t seen face to face in almost a year, my youngest daughter’s graduation from college rescheduled twice has yet to be celebrated, as is my eldest daughter’s Masters’ degree,”
Matthews shared a few moments from 2019-20 seared into her memory, including:
- February 28 – A “sea of red” during the UEA Day of Action at the Utah State Capitol and the SLEA March for Kids.
- March 11 – “Kumbaya moment” in the Gold Room of the Utah State Capitol with arms literally linked celebrating a huge increase in education funding.
- August 4 – Cars honking on State Street as Granite teachers held “creative, poignant and sometimes angry” signs supporting safe schools.
- August – Having “a woman dressed like Ghost Busters stick a swab stuck to the back of my brain” only to find out symptoms were NOT the virus.
“Of all my moments of this year, my dearest moments have been with the people I love,” concluded Matthews. “Virtually or in person, the moments that define this incredible year, when we have asked to do the impossible, for me are moments…like this with you.
Be Powerful in the Service of All You Love
Guest report by former NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia
In what was a surprise for most attending the UEA House of Delegates, former NEA President and Granite Education Association member Lily Eskelsen Garcia joined the call and provided remarks. “I’m coming to you today with a new title: proud member of NEA, UEA, GEA Retired,” she said.
Garcia began by expressing appreciation for those participating. “It’s Saturday and your ar sitting at a Zoom House of Delegates instead of buying groceries or watching Netfilx or cleaning out the garage…you know that what you’re doing I is important. Very few people do this work full time. Most are volunteers who show up, listen, debate and make decisions about where we should put our energy – how we should use our power.”
“I believe you’re here…because of what you love,” Garcia said. “Because you know how important your work is. We open a child’s mind to its infinite possibilities. I don’t care if you teach kindergarten or AP Chemistry – your work is to prepare the next generation of critical thinkers, creative problem solvers, compassionate and caring human beings. This is a calling for us and we are called upon today to act in defense of all we hold dear.”
“In this time of COVID and the world on fire and floods and hurricanes and protests demanding racial justice and a president who is blaming teachers for these protests, it all seems so overwhelming,” said Garcia. “Maybe it’s because I’ve had a chance to breathe for a moment, it seems so clear to me that our work, as important as it’s always been, has never been more important than it is now. Lead with love for those who you are, for the work you do, for the students and families who are counting on you. Breathe and know that this crazy world will be a little bit better place for everything you care about because you fearlessly came together and decided to be powerful in the service of all you love.”
Without UEA Resolutions and New Business Items on the agenda, house business moved quickly. The 2020 UEA House of Delegates adopted the 2020 UEA Legislative Platform, Support Positions and Priorities, unchanged from the previous year.
UEA Vice President Renee Pinkney presented the proposed 2020-21 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.