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Every Voice is Needed – Legislative post by UEA Policy Ambassador Elliott Tupea

2/12/2021

Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Elliott Tupea, business teacher at Hunter High School in Granite School District

In a letter to Thomas Mercer, Edmund Burke said, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” As the landscape of the nation changes and politics heads to a boiling point, every voice is needed. Every voice counts in the fight for educational rights. Who will be that voice of reason that represents, “We the People”? Who will be the voice that advocates for education? Who will be the voice that speaks against tyranny? Your voice truly matters.

We live in a great country and state that has provided opportunity for all. The United States is a Federal Constitutional Republic. What this means, in essence, is that your “voice” is significant to the future of Utah and even the country. We hold the authority but our “representatives” exercise that on our behalf. We need your voice!

I became an educator many years ago because I wanted to impact the future. As I began teaching, I noticed several inequities for our students. Many students, because of where they live, were not given the opportunities that others of a different ZIP code had. I became a member of the Utah Education Association to give voice to these inequities. My choice has impacted many lives in a positive way.

I stand with those who feel passionate about students and their success. Most educators are not in education for the “income” but rather the (student) “outcome.” Sometimes as teachers or educators our voices cannot be heard over the bureaucratic red tape. I know there is power in knowledge and power in numbers. The UEA states that our purpose is to “advance the cause of public education in partnership with others.” As your voice joins ours, it amplifies our cause.

We are currently in the 64th General Legislative Session. Those in “ivory towers” are creating and issuing bills that you may or may not agree with. One bill in particular, Senate Bill 107, is designed to override the decision of a local school board. If a particular school district decides to go online exclusively, legislators are asking that WPU’s be taken away and given to private schools that are doing face-to-face classes. It impacts us because it gives legislators the authority to remove resources for that district and allocate to private schools. This, in essence, nullifies local school board decisions as duly elected officials. How can legislators who are not in the schools know better than educators who are in the schools?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” I personally invite you to come join with your fellow teachers and educators in advocating for the future of education. I think we can all agree that every voice is needed to ensure the public’s voice is heard.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

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