Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Brittney Nelson, second grade teacher at Neil Armstrong Academy in Granite School District
I am sure if you took anything out of UEA Educator Day on the Hill this year, it was reading about House Bill 234, and feeling the sigh of relief 30,000 teachers shared across the state, when we learned it was pulled. It was being discussed in faculty meetings, teacher lounges and on social media. It started so many conversations among colleagues and sparked a fire that spread quickly. Luckily in the instance of House Bill 234, our voices were heard. However, that doesn’t mean the fight is over. The truth of the matter is similar bills will be seen in the future.
Not every bill receives such a strong battle cry in its opposition like this one, although many are deserving of it. Where will you be then?
Silence speaks volumes because it gives power to those higher up to speak for you. Being informed ensures that you are in control of the narrative you want to come from your experience as a teacher. What do you want your voice to say? There are so many other policy items that deserve your attention and deserve rallies in their opposition. Teachers have the power to make moves in legislation if we continue to demand a space to be heard.
When I attended UEA Educator Day on the Hill, legislators on the Hill were asking me questions about my thoughts on certain bills, and about my experience in the classroom. I was even invited to sit on the House floor with my representative, Melissa Ballard. All I did was send an email about a few concerns and it opened a discussion. You will be surprised at the time you are given if you simply ask.
Our jobs are exhausting enough, and so I know it seems like a lot to ask, to be politically involved. Just imagine the power of our voices if every teacher that took a few minutes to sign the petition, also took a few minutes each week during the legislative session to stay informed on current bills or email a representative.
You can start becoming more involved today in a few easy steps. Choose one to do today! They each take less than 15 minutes.
- Go to https://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp and find out who represents you. Email them an introduction. I simply stated that I was a teacher who lived in their district. Mine both replied within 24 hours.
- Stay informed by reading bills that affect you, by bookmarking UEA’s Under the Dome page. They have a great way of simplifying bills they are tracking, and even post daily updates in their email list. If you have questions, find the link at the bottom of the page that will put you in contact with one of UEA’s Legislative Team They are happy to help.
- Don’t feel like you aren’t “in the know” enough to make an email or a call to a representative. You are the expert when it comes to education, and you don’t have to be a policy expert to state how you feel when it comes to a bill that affects you. Remember, you are a voter in their district. It is their job to represent their constituents. Use your teacher voice!