Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Hillary Emmer, school counselor at Copper Mountain Middle School in Jordan School District and president of the Utah School Counselor Association
I love musicals! One of my all-time favorites is called “Newsies.” This musical highlights the turn-of-the-century and the dawn of unions. Boys who wanted to sell newspapers had to buy the newspapers first. The big newspaper companies were increasing the prices for the newsies and this eventually led to the newsies going on strike and unionizing. They wanted fair prices for the work they were doing and to be able to have some say in what was happening.
I was thinking about this idea and how unfortunate it is that these days, sometimes the word “union” is used as a type of insult. But unions are a critical piece to ensuring that best practice and good policy happen. Those who oppose our Utah Education Association often use the argument that it is not for students.
As I have worked this legislation session as a UEA Policy Ambassador, it is strikingly evident that students are the heart and soul of the work of our union. Good policy and laws help our students! And the experts of what our students need are our professionals in the school buildings: teachers, school counselors, administrators…everyone!
Not everyone is able to take time away from their students to meet with legislators during a legislative session. This is where the union is a critical component of student advocacy. I have come to learn that many of our lawmakers are very well intentioned, but they are severely uninformed and undereducated about current school practices, policies and even laws. This is why it is imperative that we have people on the ground who can go to bat for our students as new policy and law is proposed and debated.
Now is the time for us to seize the day! THANK YOU to each of you for this opportunity to support our students!