“Insulting, burdensome” bill would require teachers to post all curriculum – January 26

A legislator unveiled a bill that would require teachers to publicly post all their curriculum materials, under penalty of legal action. The UEA responded with a petition to stop the bill, calling it, among other things, “demeaning and demoralizing” to educators.

The House passed the a public education base budget that includes both student enrollment growth and an additional 2.6% increase on the WPU. Additional funding will be included in a future budget bill.

House Bill 234 (reported by Mike Kelley): Late Tuesday, Rep. Jordan Teuscher released his House Bill 234: Public Educator Curriculum Transparency Requirements. The bill would require all Utah public school educators to publicly post all learning materials and syllabi for each day of instruction. It also requires any changes to be posted under penalty of litigation. The UEA crafted a petition to end the misguided legislation (sign the petition here).

“This bill is insulting, burdensome and will not succeed in increasing transparency, but will certainly succeed in driving people from our profession,” wrote UEA President Heidi Matthews in an email to UEA leaders. “Like many of you, my anger exists on many levels. From the day-one onslaught of legislative attacks on local control of our schools with zero opportunity for public input, to the seeming disregard of the realities of our members are facing in their classrooms, the introduction of HB234 is insulting, demeaning and demoralizing!”

Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): SB59 (1st sub.): State Income Tax Rate Reduction would reduce the state income tax rate from 4.95% to 4.85%. The fiscal note is $163 million dollars in lost revenue to the state. For a family earning $70,000 it would mean a savings of about $84 per year.

Utah Taxpayers Association President Rusty Cannon spoke in favor of the bill but said they believe there is room in the budget for a deeper cut. Matthew Weinstein representing Voices for Utah Children said legislators “should proceed with caution.” Tax cuts are popular but there are unmet needs, he said, noting that taxes are at a 50-year low.

The bill passed the committee on a vote of 6-2 and now goes to the full Senate.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB1 (1st sub.): Public Education Base Budget Amendments passed unanimously. The bill provides the bulk of the funding for public education. Additional funding will be included in a final budget bill voted on later in the session. In accordance with a law passed in 2020, the base now includes funding for student enrollment growth. It also includes an additional increase of 2.6% on the WPU. Rep. Steve Eliason call the additional increase “very important. It is historic where in the base budget we are making a large increase to the WPU value.”

LegTeam Insights

The UEA Legislative Team provided help to Rep. Suzanne Harrison with a bill supporting school nurses.

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 Sara Jones: I had a great meeting with Sen. Ann Milner, Senate Majority Whip. We talked about UEA’s budget request, specifically our ask for 5% on the WPU (beyond inflationary costs) and how this aligns with what every other education stakeholder group is requesting. I also spoke in detail about our request for paid, flexible, educator-directed time. She certainly recognizes the extreme stress educators and schools have faced the past two years. Sen. Milner also spoke at length about her bill, Senate Bill 127, focusing on early literacy supports.

Rep. Suzanne Harrison approached the UEA Legislative Team for some insight on her bill, HB114: School Nursing Services Amendments. Because the bill has a large fiscal note, making it more difficult to pass, I shared some ideas for how to scale the proposal. She has drafted a substitute bill and hopes to have it presented in committee soon.

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:

My Tiny Action

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Brittany Stull, life skills teacher at Lava Ridge Intermediate School in Washington County School District

…The momentum you build from one small action to the next feels good. The successful completion of each action motivates you to take the next small action. I went to the meetings. Then I was asked to fill a vacancy on the executive board for my local. Again, all I had to do to start was say ‘yes’ and figure it out as I go. At each step, I never even thought about how that might turn into more down the road. I never imagined I’d become as involved as I am now, but I don’t regret any of it.

I may have a bad habit of jumping into things before I really know what I’m getting into, but I truly believe that change has to start at a personal level if anything’s going to happen for everyone. I have seen others willing to step up and do their own small actions to help. Their willingness to do something sparked my small actions. Now, I hope my willingness to put myself out there and do my part encourages others to take their own small actions. Together, these small actions from all of us can and will snowball into big actions and big change.