Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Camille Lund, fifth-grade teacher at West Weber Elementary School in Weber School District
If you’re anything like me, you feel like you need to have all the information about an issue before you can develop an opinion about it. For the first few years of my career, I stayed away from issues in education because I didn’t believe I knew enough to get involved.
Luckily, I had a friend and coworker who would take the time to share her personal passion for education and educational policy. She talked with me often about current legislation. She invited me to participate in various committees within our local education association and to write to my legislators about issues I cared about. She even convinced me to run for the Weber Education Association board. Through my conversations with this friend and through the experiences she helped me take advantage of, I have discovered my own passion and voice.
What I learned from this friend and from my experiences is that, just like our students, we learn best by doing. As I have put myself in situations that required me to think critically and take a stand for education, I have developed the capability to form and defend personal educational philosophies. I have discovered a passion for equitable education and educator support. And I have matured in my confidence to share my views with friends, co-workers and lawmakers. As a UEA Policy Ambassador this year, I have dived into the legislative process by following education legislation carefully, attending UEA Educator Day on the Hill, emailing my legislators and even meeting in person with my state senator. I have learned that I do know enough to do something and that my perspective is valuable.
When I ask educators what inspired them to join this profession, I commonly hear that they wanted to make a difference–to do something that mattered. That passion is something that binds all of us working in this field. And it is something that makes us particularly capable of promoting change. We care about our students. We want to take pride in our profession as a means to change the world for the better. If we can harness this collective strength and put it to use by speaking up for our students, ourselves and our field, we can make the changes we all desire to make. All it takes is for us to take a step into the dark by speaking up, speaking out and taking a stand.