Speak Up! – Legislative post by UEA Policy Ambassador Layla Hardy

Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Layla Hardy, physics and science 7 teacher at Sand Ridge Junior High School in Weber School District

I have spent the last 10 years politically active in my community as a voter liaison. I have served as a state delegate and a county delegate. I have been working with people who I don’t know very well (or who I don’t regularly agree with) to empower voters to understand how much their voice matters. All too often it seems to be something that folks just don’t want to believe.

In true teacher style, never to be deterred, I’d like to try again. This time, with this fantastic group of educators (YOU) who are already here on this webpage reading this article. I have hope because the fact that you’re here means you’ve already got a good start!

I am aware that we have a few legislators in our House and Senate that are former educators, but the bulk of them are not. They don’t have the slightest idea what you and I are up against in our classrooms, with our content, with our diverse populations, during a pandemic, day in and day out. Yet they are in the position of telling us what matters and what doesn’t and they are dictating how it will all be done. It makes no sense to me.

We MUST have a big voice in the making of policy around education! We are the pros! They may be pros at whatever they did before becoming legislators, but WE are the pros at education and who better to inform that policy? This is particularly true at this time. Even former educators don’t know what it’s like to teach in a pandemic.

It has been amazing for me to recontextualize the value of my perspective, opinions, knowledge and expertise to our lawmakers as I’ve watched the UEA Legislative Team do their work. I am empowered by them and have moved forward to speak with my own senator and representatives specifically on points regarding education. I was speaking with them before the current session even began to trust me, we are not finished speaking.

I am the one who is “in the trenches” where I teach and live, not the UEA team. I have to speak for me and for my community. If I don’t, then I can’t expect things to work out. If I don’t, I am taking my chances. If a pro (like you) doesn’t inform education policy in your community and a non-educator does, then it’s like my first child said when he came home from kindergarten one day 17 years ago, “Ya get what ya get and ya don’t throw a fit.” An uphill climb is always harder than a downhill roll. Find your legislators here and give them a ring. Speak up!