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Educators converge on Capitol Hill, school voucher bill assigned to committee – February 11

Today’s highlights:

  • More than 50 educators participated in the largest UEA Educator Day on the Hill event since 2020.
  • The UEA sponsored the morning break in the House and Senate, providing snacks to staff and legislators.
  • Private school vouchers become a hot topic on the Hill as supporters and opponents pick up steam.

House Bill 331: Vouchers: Your urgent action is needed! The bill to enact private school vouchers was assigned to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee and could be heard early next week. Contact your legislators and encourage every public school supporter you know to do the same. See more here.

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Sara Jones): Today more than 50 educators from across the state traveled to Capitol Hill to talk with their legislators as part of UEA Educator Day on the Hill. The morning began with a legislative briefing by the UEA Legislative Team and visits from Rep. Steve Waldrip, Rep. Suzanne Harrison and Sen. Kathleen Riebe, each speaking about education-related bills they are sponsoring. Large teams of school counselors and school psychologists were in attendance, as part of a partnership between UEA, the Utah School Counselor Association and the Utah Association of School Psychologists.

Attendees spoke with dozens of lawmakers and a key focus of those conversations was HB331: Hope Scholarship Program. UEA opposes this private and home school voucher bill which will be presented in committee next week. UEA members shared stories about the impact of siphoning money away from public schools and the need for more resources to support students across the state.

UEA also sponsored the morning break in the House and Senate, providing snacks to staff and legislators. This is always a great chance for small groups of educators to have conversations with lots of legislators as they stop by to pick up a snack.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB134 (2nd sub.): Special Education Amendments expands how state special education funds can be used by a district or charter school in a mainstream classroom. It passed the Senate on a vote of 20-5 and now goes to the House for consideration.

 

LegTeam Insights

Your UEA Legislative Team is on the Hill every day, working behind the scenes to represent educators. Here are some insights:

Reported by Legislative Team Member and UEA President Heidi Matthews: Today just filled my heart! The energy of 50+ members sharing their stories on this UEA Educator Day on the Hill was palpable – and contagious. We were a force! (In writing this, I initially wrote that today gave me so much ‘hope’ but I deleted that…too close to the misleading HB331: Hope Scholarship, a voucher by any other name.)

We were joined on the Hill by UEA members with overlapping membership in the Utah School Counselor Association (USCA), the Utah Association School Psychologists (UASP) and the Utah Science Teachers Association (USTA). Such a reminder about why we refer to UEA as an association of educators, which includes teachers and all other licensed professionals in our schools.

Take a moment and read the statement from USTA outlining the contradictions of the adopted Utah K-12 SEEd standards and proposed curriculum “transparency” bills. Take a moment to check in on your school counselors and psychologists as they are carrying a heavy load of tending to the needs of students and for us! Today reminded me of the many, many times that I would find myself in the office of those I worked with…Diane/Niko/Mary/Shannon/Dara/Liz/Sam/Judy/Hillary/Lauren (please forgive me if I left you off this list!) asking advice, confiding, connecting. Today reminded me of how much of a load our counselors and psychologist carry and how incredibly giving they are on so many levels.  Take a moment to check in on them, too.

BOLO for urgent action request to contact your legislator OPPOSING HB331. Your voice is powerful and this bill is likely in committee early next week. Share far and wide with all those who stand for public schools. Recharge this weekend if you can. You are appreciated beyond measure.

In solidarity!

 

Policy Ambassador Messages

In 2022, 15 educators were selected as UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and agree to engage with legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission:

Empowered Educators Create Empowered Students

Submitted by UEA Advanced Policy Ambassador Hunter Clapsadl, sixth-grade English/language arts teacher at Jefferson Jr. High School in Granite School District

“…No matter your confidence in the political sphere, I encourage you to use your voice and find your power. If you’re a newbie like me, welcome! I am excited to find our voices and create change together. If you’ve been advocating for our students for what feels like forever- thank you. Empowered educators empower our students, and I don’t think there is anything more powerful than that.”

 

Upcoming Legislation to Watch

Happy Valentine’s Day! Four UEA-tracked bills are on the agenda for the House Education Committee at 8 a.m., Feb. 14:

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