Opening-day speeches take aim at “education modernization” and parent choice

House Speaker Brad Wilson on the first day of the 2022 legislative session. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Session Opening (reported by Mike Kelley): Senate President Stuart Adams began his remarks with an appreciation for educators and medical workers. “Teachers and healthcare workers have continued to amaze us throughout the pandemic. They have faced every challenge head on. Teachers work day in and day out to help our children and especially the kids who have fallen behind from learning remotely.”

Adams vowed that 2022 is “the year of the tax cut…but it will be larger this time.” He suggested the state can both “cut taxes and continue to fund education at historic levels.”

In what seemed a veiled reference to some type of school voucher scheme, Adam said, “I’ve heard from so many parents who want more choices, more control over their children’s education. It’s our duty as lawmakers to find innovative solutions that empower parents to set their children up for success.”

And, in what appeared to be a reference to concerns about school race curriculum, Adams said, “All of our students should be taught that they have the same potential no matter what their gender, race or background. Our state has the opportunity to lead the nation in creating a process where teachers and parents work together in a transparent manner to ensure students are prepared and can compete in a global economy.”

In his opening comments to the House of Representatives, Speaker Brad Wilson also praised teachers.  “We are blessed with dedicated teachers, counselors and others who support work in the classroom honing the raw talent of our students and changing their lives.” He then called for more school innovation by saying “the world we live in is more dynamic than at any point in human history and I think our schools should be as well. We can foster innovation in higher education and in our K through 12 classrooms by allowing teachers, schools, districts and higher education institutions the flexibility to safely try new ideas and adopt those that are successful.”

“As we consider education funding, I do want to make one thing crystal clear…it’s a non-negotiable priority of this House to ensure education resources for Utah students are not dependent on where they live,” said Wilson. “God-given talent is no respecter of geography and opportunities for success should not be either.”

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Opening day is typically for bills previously recommended by interim committees. Two UEA-tracked bill were heard today. Both passed unanimously and now go to the Senate:

See the 2022 UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet for the current bills tracked by UEA.

View all legislative happenings at UEA Under the Dome.