Legislative report submitted by UEA Advanced Policy Ambassador Taylor Layton, instructional coach/math interventionist at Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Granite School District
One of my favorite parts of one of my favorite days of the year, UEA Educator Day on the Hill, is getting to know and hear from diverse educators from all around the state. Utah’s school professionals are as diverse as can be, representing rural schools to urban ones, highly affluent schools to Title I, special education to enrichment, pre-K to post-secondary, arts to CTE, nurses to bus drivers, and everyone in between.
The stories we come to tell are as diverse as the schools we come from, yet we all find reason to brave the pre-dawn cold and make our voices heard. From these educators, I learn about transit costs in rural districts. I learn about mental health in our marginalized populations. I learn how thinly spread our nurses and social workers are. I learn about managing staff in a school district with just one high school, and I learn about finding space for relocatables in schools that are booming. I come to appreciate just how different educating Utah’s students looks, and the unique challenges that come in each setting.
Underlying this learning and appreciation each year, however, is a sense of our shared interest and our common struggle. With all our different voices, we come together to herald one loud message. No matter our home address or job title, we all want to properly fund public education so our students can succeed. We want a skilled educator in every classroom. We want those educators to have a place at the table, shaping decisions that impact our schools. We want to be treated as respected and trusted professionals. We want to avoid micromanagement, and any naïve hopes of quick-fix reforms. We want what is best for Utah’s students. As the ones on the ground, we know more than anyone else what they need.
Like the members of a choir, our various voices don’t dilute or hamper one another. Instead, they echo and resound, they harmonize and fulfill each other. When Utah teachers stand up and speak together, we are heard. Thousands of signatures on a petition kill a bill. Teachers march from their schools to the Capitol, to the front-page news. Whether it is writing to your legislator, attending Educator Day on the Hill, or just talking with your neighbors and family, add your voice to our chorus. Utah’s students need you.