A few highlights from today’s busy Capitol action:
- Hundreds gather on the Capitol steps calling on legislators to support public education and stop the barrage of bad bills aimed at educators.
- A measure that would eliminate certain student fees cleared a Senate committee.
- A bill targeting “curriculum transparency” and “education sovereignty” failed to pass a House committee.
Education Rally at the Capitol (reported by Mike Kelley): Hundreds of education supporters braved cold temperatures on the steps of the State Capitol to let legislators know that “enough is enough” and telling them to “let teachers teach.” The Salt Lake, Granite, Park City, Jordan and Canyons Education Associations hosted the rally “in support of Utah students, educators and families.” (See more at KSL.com.)
Those presenting at the event included education association presidents, teachers, parents and classified employees. Messages shared at the rally included:
- “Educator voices are imperative in any education policy and ours have been ignored. Legislation that adds to educator workload and calls into question our professional integrity is harmful to teachers and students.”
- “Public schools should be fully funded. Vouchers take money from public education without taxpayer accountability.”
- “Any law that requires individual teachers to get ‘approval’ of materials and lesson plans is an attack on academic freedom and will impede critical thinking and dialogue in our classrooms. Course standards and curriculums have already been set by the Utah State Board of Education and locally elected school boards.”
- “Educators are overburdened and in crisis.”
House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Three UEA-tracked House bills and one Senate bill were debated in House Education Committee today.
- HB380: School Enrollment Amendments changes the enrollment window for students who are not within the school boundaries to begin two weeks earlier. UEA Legislative Team member Jay Blain spoke in support of the bill, which passed unanimously.
- HB386: Education Innovation Program creates a process for an educator to propose an innovation program to their district for approval. The innovation program could include an alternative classroom schedule or alternative curriculum. The bill passed unanimously.
- SCR5: Concurrent Resolution Honoring 125th Anniversary of the National Parent Teacher Association passed unanimously
- HB366: Education Sovereignty and Curriculum Transparency addresses curriculum transparency as well as state sovereignty and individual liberty in public education. UEA Director Sara Jones spoke against the bill, questioning the potential impact to federal Title I or Special Education funding if federal “authority” in public education was restricted. After extensive committee discussion and public comment, a motion was made to adjourn without voting on the bill. This means the bill will be held in committee and not move forward unless it is brought up for reconsideration.
Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Today the Senate Education Committee heard six UEA-Tracked bills. All passed an are now headed to the full House.
- HB103: Student Intervention Early Warning Program converts the student intervention early warning pilot program into an ongoing program. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously.
- HB113 (1st sub.): Students with Disabilities Funding Revisions amends a formula for special education funding. This change is one of UEA’s budget priorities for this year. The bill passed unanimously.
- HB114 (2nd sub.): School Nursing Services Amendments creates a requirement for districts and charter schools to reduce the student to school nurse ratio from the current 1:5,000 to 1:2,000 within four years. The UEA supports this bill. It narrowly passed on a vote of 3-2.
- HB211 (1st sub.): School Fees Amendments identifies the types of fees a school district or charter school can charge a secondary school student for curricular activities and allows a school to charge secondary students fees for extracurricular activities. The bill passed on a vote of 4-1.
- HB273 (1st sub.): Civics Education Amendments creates a pilot program for districts and charter schools to adopt innovative civics education programs. The bill passed unanimously.
- HB315: Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools Incentive Program Amendments clarifies that special education teachers are eligible for the Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools Incentive Program. It passed unanimously.
House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Two UEA-tracked bills passed the House today:
- HB337 (3rd sub.): Office of the Education Ombudsman would create the Office of the Education Ombudsman in the governor’s office to report to the Education Interim Committee. The UEA opposes this legislation. It failed on a vote of 24-45.
- HB21: School and Child Care Center Water Testing Requirements requires testing water for lead in schools and requires action if lead test results equal or exceed certain levels. The UEA supports this legislation. On a vote of 39-28, the House concurred with a Senate amendment. It now goes to the governor for signature.
Upcoming Legislation to Watch
Three UEA-tracked bills are on the agenda for the Senate Education Committee at 4 p.m., Feb. 23:
- SB21: School Standards Review Committee Sunset Extension. The UEA supports this bill.
- HB346 (1st sub.): Funding Independence in Foreign Language Education.
- HB302 (1st sub.): Educational Language Services Amendments. The UEA supports this bill.
- See the 2022 UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet for the current bills tracked by UEA.
- View all legislative happenings at UEA Under the Dome.