The 2022 UEA House of Delegates met virtually on Saturday, April 30, to conduct association business as required by UEA Bylaws. At the House, delegates created a task force to study UEA dues, updated the UEA Legislative Program, approved the 2022-23 UEA operating budget, heard reports on the status of the Association and adopted policies to govern the Association. Nearly 200 delegates, elected by their peers in each of the state’s local associations, participated in the 2022 House.
Heidi Matthews, presiding at her final UEA House of Delegates meeting as UEA president, introduced the meeting theme: ‘You Me We Belong.’
“Research indicates that a sense of belonging is crucial to our life satisfaction, happiness, mental and physical health and even longevity,” said Matthews. “It gives us a sense of purpose and meaning. The theme for this year’s House of Delegates Your me we belong is fundamental to our work and why we exist as the UEA.”
Following Matthews’ remarks, delegates rose for a stirring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by the Taylorsville High School Concert Choir.
National Education Highlights
Report by NEA State Directors Mike Harman and Mindy Layton
NEA State Directors from Utah Mike Harman and Mindy Layton shared a few national education highlights from the past year. “Although this has been a challenging year…there have been some positive things happening at the national level,” said Harman.
Harman and Layton pointed to the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, revisions to the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program making it more user friendly and to include some loans that were not eligible in the past. “Over 49,000 people who had loans will see those loans completely forgiven, over 550,000 people with loans will be given up to two years of credit based on new criteria coming from the US Department of Education,” noted Layton.
“Currently as a member of the NEA, we are part of a three-million-member organization,” said Harman. “In Utah, this past year was one of the most successful years for early enrollment. Utah is part of 8 states who saw membership growth. We know that membership is vital to increasing our strength and capacity.”
Letters to UEA Members
Report by UEA President Heidi Matthews
For her final official president’s report to the UEA House of Delegates, Matthews prepared an epistolary message in the form of “letters” to UEA members.
In a “Thank You Letter,” Matthews expressed appreciation for the opportunity to serve as UEA president for the past six years. “Thank you for trust you have placed in me. Thank you for the opportunities and experiences that being the President of the largest education Association in Utah has afforded,” she said.
I am sorry for asking you to dance and sing our mission statement,” said Matthews in a ‘Letter of Apology.’ “I am so sorry for all that (educators) have been through in the many challenges of the pandemic – in your personal lives, your families, your classrooms, our schools, our legislature – and I am especially sorry when we didn’t get it right.”
“I just love you,” Matthews read in her ‘Love Letter. “I love that you advance the cause of public education in partnership with others. I love that you strengthen the teaching profession. I love that you promote quality schools for Utah’s children. And I love how you advocate for the well-being of members. I love belonging to you.”
State Association Update
Report by UEA Executive Director Jennifer Boehme
“I am so honored to be speaking to you today at my first House of Delegates as UEA Executive Director,” said Jennifer Boehme. “My journey here started in 2013 when some things happened in my personal life that caused me to take a look at my career and what I wanted to do. I considered continuing as a sixth-grade teacher, going back to school to become an administrator or working in the association. I chose the association.”
Boehme reported on several New Business Items (NBI) passed during previous House of Delegate meetings:
- “NBI 2 from 2019 created the Equity, Justice and Inclusion Task Force, which reported to the Board of Directors last October. We are in the process of hiring an Equity and Membership Director and hope that person will be able to start work this summer.”
- “NBI 1 from 2021 created a Unity Committee with our sister organization, the Utah School Employees Association, which represents the education support professionals in our schools. The committee met with a facilitator…and created an agreement on a path forward, which was subsequently rejected by the USEA Board of Directors.”
- “NBI 2 from 2021 required UEA to create an AR/ABL of the Year award, which was done by the UEA Organizing Membership and Capacity Building committee.”
- “NBI 3 from 2021 required UEA to include land acknowledgements at meetings, and we encourage local associations to do the same.”
Boehme concluded by listing accomplishments of the past year including a 6% increase on the WPU, passing House Bill HB396 to create educator-directed flexible time, meetings with members, leadership development, a new internal staff structure and progress toward a new UEA headquarters building.
Keep Our Eye on Creating Great Public Schools
Report by NEA Secretary Treasurer Noel Candelaria
NEA Secretary Treasurer Noel Candelaria began his remarks by thanking UEA President Heidi Matthews for her leadership and partnership with UEA over the past six years. “Your passion for students and for our members were always inspirational to me. The collaborative legacy and the foundation you have left will impact students for generations to come.”
“Thanks to the hard work of many, Utah is no longer last in per-student funding,” said Candelaria. He noted that in reports recently released by NEA, Utah ranks eighth nationally in education funding growth.
Candelaria then addressed equity and inclusion. “Everyone has a place and purpose in this place we call our union and our union family,” he said. “Everybody wins when we focus on inclusion. It can be uncomfortable, but it can challenge our thinking and create space for change. There is nothing we can do to change past acts, but we can change the future.” He gave the example of Juneteenth being added as both a national and a Utah state holiday.
Candelaria concluded by encouraging everyone to “keep your eye on the vision of a great public school” for every student.
Action on Amendments, Bills, Budget and Other Items
The 2022 UEA House of Delegates adopted the 2023 UEA Legislative Program, eight amendments to the UEA Bylaws, eight amendments to UEA Resolutions, two New Business Items and the 2022-23 UEA budget. In addition, the House adopted five amendments to the UEA Constitution that must also receive a majority of the votes cast by ballot at the next regular election of the UEA membership.
Delegates at the House approved the UEA 2023 Legislative Program with a few changes from 2022. Among those changes were replacing several references to ‘teacher’ with the more inclusive ‘educator’ and adding support for legislation that:
- “Provides a full-day kindergarten option for every family who chooses to participate,”
- “Creates an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ students and staff,” and
- “Allows for comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education curriculum while allowing parents to opt out their student.”
UEA Constitution, Bylaws and Resolutions—
Each year, the House may adopt amendments to the UEA Constitution, Bylaws and UEA Resolutions to state the official UEA position on various topics.
The 2022 House approved the following amendments to the UEA Constitution (these must also be approved in a vote of UEA membership):
- Constitution Amendment C1 – Replaces references to “class/classes” to “category/categories” when referring to membership groups or types.
- Constitution Amendment C2 – Clarifies that someone must belong to a local association that is affiliated with the UEA to qualify for UEA membership.
- Constitution Amendment C3 – Changes a reference to the word “disciplinary” to the more inclusive term “corrective”.
- Constitution Amendment C4 – Allows for the addition of an elected member of the UEA Board of Directors to represent UEA-Retired.
- Constitution Amendment C5 – Changes references to “student” members or program to “aspiring educator” to align with previous changes.
The 2022 House approved the following changes to UEA Bylaws:
- Bylaw Amendment B1 – Replaces references to “class/classes” to “category/categories” when referring to membership groups or types (matching Constitutional Amendment C1).
- Bylaw Amendment B2 – Expands the category of ‘Active Members’ for potential inclusion of other education professionals, such as ESPs, and updates references to and requirements of the Utah State Board of Education.
- Bylaw Amendment B3 – Replaces gendered pronouns his/her, he/she, him/her with inclusive them, their, they.
- Bylaw Amendment B4 – Changes references to “student” members or program to “aspiring educator” to align with previous changes (matching Constitutional Amendment C5).
- Bylaw Amendment B5 – Strengthens language regarding equitable representation at the House of Delegates.
- Bylaw Amendment B6 – Changes wording to more accurately reflects the purpose and work of the Bargaining, Professional Rights and Responsibilities Committee.
- Bylaw Amendment B7 – Updates terms for ethnicity for consistency with the U.S. Census.
- Bylaw Amendment B8 – Replaces several references to ‘teacher’ with the more inclusive ‘educator’.
The 2022 House adopted the following changes to UEA Resolutions:
- Resolution Amendment R1 – Changes language to acknowledge specific groups within our diverse populations, and according to terms included in the most recent U.S. Census
- Resolution Amendment R2 – Removes a reference and definition for “Multicultural Education” and replaces it with a reference and definition to “Culturally Responsive Education.”
- Resolution Amendment R3 – Removes a reference and definition for “Restorative Practices” and replaces it with a reference and definition to “Equitable Corrective Practices.”
- Resolution Amendment R4 – Adds a new resolution in Goal B to promote professional excellence for school administrators.
- Resolution Amendment R5 – Adds a new resolution in Goal C to address mental health services for educators.
- Resolution Amendment R6 – Adds a new resolution in Goal D to support a strong rural educational system.
- Resolution Amendment R7 – Adds a new resolution in Goal F to support a comprehensive school library media program in educational settings.
- Resolutions Amendment R8 – Adds a new resolution in Goal F to support a well-designed program of Ethnic Studies.
New Business Items—
Two New Business Items were proposed and adopted by the 2022 House of Delegates:
- New Business Item 1 – Creates a task force to study the UEA dues formula and produce potential recommendations to the UEA Board of Directors in time for new bills to be considered at the 2023 House of Delegates.
- New Business Item 2 – Creates a task force to study student attendance issues in Utah schools and coordinate with UEA’s Legislative Team to create potential legislation to find solutions to increase school attendance.
2022-23 UEA Budget—
Members of the UEA Budget and Audit Committee Renée Pinkney, Mike Harman, Kathy Smith and Rod Hurd provided a detailed overview of the proposed 2022-23 UEA budget, which was available to each delegate prior to attendance.
“Putting the annual UEA budget together is a collaborative process at every level, from NEA grants, to the UEA Budget and Audit Committee, the UEA Board of Directors, the UEA officers, the Council of Local Presidents, and the UEA staff,” said Pinkney during her presentation. “The UEA Board supports and recommends this budget as one that is fiscally responsible and allows for the UEA’s growth in capacity and membership; construction of a new UEA Headquarters building; and meeting our Strategic vision and goals.” Delegates voted to approve the proposed budget.
About the UEA House of Delegates
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.