Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Aaron Webb, music teacher at Parley’s Park Elementary School in Park City School District
“Hi, I’m Aaron, and I’m a Teacher.” Serving as a UEA Policy Ambassador has taught me that among all my roles and relationships – a local association vice president, a constituent, a friend, a son, a brother – mentioning my work as a teacher evokes the fastest and most emotional reactions from others. The next words range from incredulous: “Why would you want to do that? Teachers don’t get paid much and kids are tough sometimes;” to veneration: “You must be a saint. I bet those kids just adore you!” Even better when I mention that my subject is music: “That is wonderful! The arts are so important.”
When I introduced myself as a teacher to Sen. Todd Weiler, he said, “Thank you for all you do for your students.” I have encountered a similar warmth and respect from nearly all the legislators I have met or corresponded with, regardless of political background. The truth is, being an educator opens doors, starts conversations, and garners personal and professional respect to an extent I did not anticipate.
Our stories as educators and our expertise are badly needed in politics. Despite the warmth and respect for the profession, many lawmakers and members of the public in general do not yet grasp the full educational, social, economic and human impact of potential legislation like House Bill 302 (Preserving Sports for Female Students), or House Concurrent Resolution 8 (Concurrent Resolution on Education). Who does? That’s right, educators. And what is our job? That’s right, to teach – not just our students, but our communities and legislators as well.
As teachers, we are uniquely situated to make a difference. We know that in order to reach our students we must build relationships. We must meet our students where they are and build upon their existing strengths. We must encourage and challenge our students to be the best they can be. We must apply the same skills to educate our community and elected leaders about what is happening in our schools.