Hear Me Roar! - Legislative post by UEA Policy Ambassador Bianca Mittendorf
Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Bianca Mittendorf, teacher at North Davis Jr. High School in Davis School District
Friday, February 8, marked the second time I was able to participate in UEA’s Educator Day on the Hill (EDOH). Though I had experienced the event previously, I still felt the same sense of accomplishment and empowerment as I walked under the Capitol Rotunda. It was awe inspiring to know that I was being given an opportunity to advocate for public education. As usual, I felt a little trepidation as I considered what I would say when I had a chance to speak with my lawmakers: Should I reference an upcoming bill that I really know nothing about? Will they be able to sense how nervous I am and therefore not listen to me? What if I say the wrong thing?
Davis educator Bianca Mittendorf
is a 2019 UEA Policy Ambassador
I then remembered something from the Policy Ambassador training I had received: as an educator, ‘I am the expert when it comes to the day-to-day workings of a public education classroom,’ though I’ll admit it feels a little weird saying that, considering I’m still a newer teacher (3 years in!). After the self- talk, I continued with my mission with my head held a little higher.
My thinking was reinforced when I was able to speak with my representative, Steve Waldrip. He was courteous and genuinely seemed interested in what I had to say. I also observed this same level of courtesy while waiting with my UniServ president, Yvonne Speckman, for Rep. Stephen Handy to come off the floor to speak with us. Though he was busy, he listened and accepted our information, for which we were thankful.
One of the more interesting events of the day was the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting during which policy makers considered evidence of how some public education funds should be spent. It was enlightening to see the discussion that took place as it was very clear that lawmakers rely heavily upon experts to delineate the impact changes to funding can have on public education and specifically how that can affect teachers working in the trenches. One of the more valuable comments came from Davis Behavioral Health and Davis School District as they presented the need for, and results of, having mindful schools in the district.
It is important to note that I attended EDOH on an ‘off’ day, in that I mean Proposition 3 advocates and opponents were out in full force and blocked the doors leading to the floor of the House, making it difficult for legislators to exit. As a result, fewer representatives met with constituents but the ones who did seem to be happy to listen and did not appear to harbor any ill will towards the demonstrators.
All in all, my day was very eye opening and thrilling. I was able to see the democratic process in action and voice my concerns to people who took the time to listen. Even though it was a day out of my classroom, it was necessary. When I attend EDOH again, I will be a little less scared and I will keep the words of the great Kathryn Hudson in my mind, “I am a [teacher] and you’re gonna hear me roar!”
About UEA Policy Ambassadors—
In 2019, seven teachers volunteered to become UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members.