Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Anthony Dick, math teacher at Roy High School in Weber School District
The early years of my career were difficult. I taught six different courses at my school, had taken over an after-school remedial program a couple of nights a week at a different school, and picked up an evening job to help support my young and growing family.
Needless to say, I was in a spot where many of us find ourselves at some point, especially starting out. I would go home late each day, spend some time helping my wife and then hold my young boy before grading and prepping for the next morning. At the end of the month, I would look at the few meager dollars I was able to save, hope that no emergency would occur to wipe our small savings, and frequently wonder if I had made the right choice in pursuing a career in education. I was exhausted and discouraged on almost a daily basis.
As the legislature began one particular year, I was invited to write a letter to my representative by my local building rep. I didn’t know what was happening in the session, had never met the man, never visited the legislative website, and really had no ideas of what to write, nor had the time to research anything. So, I simply wrote what was on my mind at that time. I told him of the struggles I had in the classroom, of a student that had shared suicidal thoughts with me, another who was worried about grades as he worked graveyard shifts to help his family, really just baring my soul at the time. In the end, I shared that I didn’t believe I would be able to continue as a teacher at the conclusion of the school year. I emailed it out, feeling a little better that at least I had voiced my frustrations – then I got an answer…
A few weeks ago, I received an invitation from my superintendent to meet at the Capitol with a small group of legislators, administrators and teachers from my district. I was told we would be “participating in an educational discussion” with these representatives, but otherwise didn’t know what to expect. For a couple of hours our group met and brainstormed problems and solutions, having many opportunities for personal conversations with our local representatives. I was surprised to learn of what they knew of what was happening in the schools…and also by what they didn’t know.
Then, last Friday, I sat in the Capitol trying to get an appointment with my representatives and emailing them as I waited. I was particularly bothered by House Bill 234 which I had read the day it was published. I wanted to voice my anger with what I saw as a vilifying and obtrusive bill and make clear the impact it would have on individual students in my classroom – I was ready for a fight! In the middle of such an email, I received a twitter post announcing that this bill had been withdrawn as more than 30,000 of you had participated in a petition to fight against it.
My voice alone years ago was a lonely plea for help, but it was listened to. As I sat in a group of a couple dozen educators and representatives, my voice was validated and discussed. On Friday, my voice, along with thousands of others, was heard and given a prompt action as a response.
Learn what is happening on UEA Under the Dome and raise your voice! Share with your legislators what only YOU can – tell what is happening in your life, your classroom, and your school, and the impact of their decisions. Join with educators around you to add volume and strength to YOUR voice as you share YOUR story! Let your voice be heard!