Week Seven – March 1-5 2021

2021 WEEK IN REVIEW: March 1-5

UEA Policy Ambassador Message – March 5, 2021

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission…

Five Things I’ve Learned This Legislative Session

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Shandré Call, English teacher at East High School in Salt Lake City School District

…I am in awe of how many incredible individuals campaign, lobby, and yes, fight on behalf of teachers and students in our state. The UEA Legislative Team works harder and does more than I realized. They are the unsung heroes of our association, putting in hours of effort strategizing, collaborating, studying and contributing to make sure that we are given a voice during the legislative session at the Utah Capitol. Their work doesn’t stop there though. I know that what we have seen during the session is just a small part of all that they do. If you are not a member yet, I urge you to sign up so that this important work can continue.

At the beginning of our journey as Legislative Policy Ambassadors this 2021 session, Dr. Sara Jones spoke to us about the need for teacher support during the pandemic. Her words about how educators are overloaded and need support now more than ever, really resonated with me. It is comforting that she and the entire team “get it.” They recognize and know our fears and concerns as teachers. They are not just passively listening, they are doing. There is a lot that educators still need. The words of Susan B. Anthony remind us that, “It is only through our discontent with the way things are that we can hope for change.” I am hopeful that the UEA Legislative Team, along with our voices and support, can inspire that change.

 


 

House and Senate reach agreement and pass in-person instruction bill – March 4, 2021

Day 44 of the 45-day legislative session is over. Just one more day to go. To those who faithfully follow education issues at the legislature, thank you! Your public awareness and advocacy for students has made a difference this session.

House and Senate Action on SB107: The House and Senate have finally agreed on a 7th substitute to the in-person instruction bill. SB107 (7th sub): In-person Instruction Prioritization implements thresholds and requirements for the test-to-stay testing program that go into effect if 2% of the school population tests positive for COVID-19. In addition, the legislation requires all school districts to offer in-person learning a minimum four days a week as an option for students. It now also includes requirements for higher education to hold in-person classes. The UEA opposes the bill. The House voted to accept the changes on a vote of 53-15 and the Senate on a vote of 23-5.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB92 (5th sub): Elections Amendments provides that a regulated officeholder is not required to file a conflict-of-interest disclosure at the time of filing for reelection to office if the regulated officeholder already filed a disclosure earlier the same year and indicates that the disclosure is accurate and up-to-date. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HB381 (1st sub): Grow Your Own Teacher and School Counselor Pipeline Program creates a scholarship program for paraprofessionals and school counselor interns to become licensed teachers or licensed school counselors. It also has funding for mentor stipends. The bill passed the House on a vote of 71-1 and now goes to the Governor.

SB148 (3rd sub): Public Education Modifications requires a school district to provide parents with access to curriculum that the district uses for each grading period and to provide a student a grade or performance report for each course in which the student is enrolled that reflects the student’s work, including the student’s progress based on mastery during the grading period. It also requires a school district to provide a student enrolled in an online course and the student’s parent with access to certain information. The bill passed the House on a vote of 49-21 and now goes back to the Senate to concur with changes.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB369: School Bus Inspection Amendments would require school districts to have a written policy about school bus inspections at the end of every route and disciplinary actions for failure to do so. UEA believes this bill is unnecessary because similar requirements already exist in USBE rule. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 25-1 and now goes to the Governor.

HB345 (2nd sub): School Resource Officers Amendments requires enhanced training for resource officers to help stop the school to prison pipeline and clarifies requirements for the Memorandum of Understanding a school district enters in to with a law enforcement agency providing school resource officers. It passed the Senate on vote of 20-6 and now goes to the Governor.

HB136: Initiative and Referenda Modifications is another attempt by the legislature to make it more difficult for the public to participate directly in the legislative process. The UEA opposes this bill. After some changes, it passed the Senate on a vote of 22-7. It now goes back to the House to concur with the changes.

HB323 (1st sub): High Poverty Schools Teacher Bonus Program Amendments addresses an existing program that bases a teacher bonus on high student test scores. Because statewide standardized assessments were not completed in the spring of 2020, data does not exist to award the teacher bonus for this year. The bill makes an allowance for the 2020-21 year only to use test scores from 2018-19 to award the bonus. UEA objects to the premise of the bill because it continues to tie teacher pay to student test scores. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

 

Upcoming Legislation to Watch

For the last day, both the House and Senate will be in floor time all day. Watch the debate and view the chamber calendars.


 

Senate approves scholarship for paraprofessionals to become licensed teachers – March 3, 2021

The Senate unanimously passed a scholarship program for paraprofessionals and school counselor interns to become licensed teachers or licensed school counselors. A bill intended to increase broadband infrastructure, digital access mand digital equity failed in the Senate.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Three UEA-tracked bills passed the House and will be sent to the Governor for signature.

SB142 (1st sub): Public Education Funding Amendments implements several recommendations from a recent comprehensive funding study. The UEA supports this bill. It was substituted and passed the House unanimously. The Senate then concurred with the change.

SB154: Teacher Salary Supplement Program Amendments adds educators with a deaf education license to the TSSP. This would be a small adjustment, affecting seven educators employed at Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. UEA supports the bill. It passed the House unanimously.

SB234: Statewide Online Education Program Amendments will expand online education classes to include grades 7 and 8. The bill passed the House on a vote of 54-14.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB381: Grow Your Own Teacher and School Counselor Pipeline Program creates a scholarship program for paraprofessionals and school counselor interns to become licensed teachers or licensed school counselors. It also has funding for mentor stipends. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously and was returned to the Senate to concur with amendments.

HB425 (1st sub): Education Monitoring and Funds Management Amendments creates consistent standards for how the State Board of Education monitors both school district and charter school management and expenditures of state funds. The bill also creates a Charter School Closure Reserve Account that may be used to pay debts owed by a charter school that closes. UEA supports the bill as a necessary progress toward greater charter school accountability. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HB304 support HB304 (2nd sub): Digital Opportunity Access Amendments implements measures to increase broadband infrastructure, digital access and digital equity. The bill failed in the Senate on a vote of 13-15.

HB70: Ballot Tracking Amendments requires the lieutenant governor to create a system that: tracks all ballots that are mailed or deposited in ballot drop boxes; and allows a voter to choose to receive text message or email notifications regarding the status of the voter’s trackable ballot. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HB300: Reporting Requirements for Local Education Agencies is one of several bills eliminating or reducing burdensome reporting requirements for LEAs. UEA supports the bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and will be sent to the Governor for signature.

 

Upcoming Legislation to Watch

The final days of the General Legislative Session are devoted to floor time in the House and Senate. View the chamber calendars.


 

Dozens of Bills Heard in Final Day for Committees – March 2, 2021

Today’s highlights: A House committee votes down a move to allow school boards to authorize charter schools outside their district boundaries (HB417). A bill to enact a one-time voucher for school expenses (SB242) failed in the Senate, was reconsidered, and failed again. The Senate rejected House changes to mandatory in-person instruction legislation (SB107), so a Conference Committee was assigned to debate the bill’s fate.

 

UEA Government Relations Director Sara Jones and
President Heidi Matthews met with Senate President
Stuart Adams as the legislature enters its final days.

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): The House Education Committee met for the last time this legislative session, debating four bills tracked by the UEA:

 

HB417: Charter School Authorization Amendments was presented by Rep. Adam Robertson. The bill would allow a local school board to authorize a charter school outside of its school district boundaries. UEA Director of Policy and Research Jay Blain spoke against the bill saying the State Charter School Board has the “resources, expertise, know-how and staff” to oversee charter schools. He urged the committee to vote against the bill and “let districts continue to do what they do best.” The bill failed on a vote of 4-7.

HB402: School Transportation Funding Amendments allows the State Board of Education to use 2019 data to determine the distribution of district transportation funds because of the interruptions from the pandemic last year. UEA supports the bill. It passed the committee and later the full House unanimously.

HCR22: Concurrent Resolution Celebrating the Contributions of Multilingual and Multicultural Families to Utah Schools was presented by Rep. Dan Johnson. He began his presentation by describing his own family’s immigration history and included a number of students from Clayton Middle School who spoke about their immigration experiences in support of the resolution. It passed the committee and later the full House unanimously.

HB426: Therapy Animals Amendments was presented by Rep. Marsha Judkins. The bill requires a policy be adopted by a school district or charter school if they decide to allow animal-assisted interventions using therapy animals. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously.

House Health and Human Services Committee (reported by Jay Blain): One UEA-tracked bill was heard in this committee. HB421: Intensive Services Pilot Program creates the Intensive Services Special Education Costs Pilot Program to provide funding to local education agencies to supplement the cost of educating a student who has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and for whom the cost of the special education services described in the student’s exceeds three times the statewide average per-pupil expenditures. UEA Director of Policy and Research Jay Blain said the bill helps students and assists teachers in serving these students. “Getting this program back into code is a great first step and then the legislature can work on incrementally increasing the funding,” he said. Representatives from local school boards spoke in favor of the bill as well. It passed the committee unanimously.

Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Committee (reported by Chase Clyde): One UEA-tracked bill was heard in this committee. HB369: School Bus Inspection Amendments would require school districts to have a written policy about school bus inspections at the end of every route and disciplinary actions for failure to do so. UEA believes this bill is unnecessary because similar requirements already exist in USBE rule. The bill passed the committee unanimously. It now goes to the full Senate.

Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): One UEA-tracked bill was heard in this committee. HB425 (1st sub): Education Monitoring and Funds Management Amendments creates consistent standards for how the State Board of Education monitors both school district and charter school management and expenditures of state funds. The bill also creates a Charter School Closure Reserve Account that may be used to pay debts owed by a charter school that closes. UEA supports the bill as a necessary progress toward greater charter school accountability. It passed the committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB338: School District Voter Eligibility Amendments allows local school boards to vote to allow students who are 16 and 17 years old to vote in local school board elections. The bill failed in the House on a vote of 22-50.

HB402: School Transportation Funding Amendments allows the State Board of Education to use 2019 data to determine the distribution of district transportation funds because of the interruptions from the pandemic last year. UEA supports the bill and it passed the House unanimously.

HB426: Therapy Animals Amendments requires a policy be adopted by a school district or charter school if they decide to allow animal-assisted interventions using therapy animals. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House on a vote of 59-11.

HCR22: Concurrent Resolution Celebrating the Contributions of Multilingual and Multicultural Families to Utah Schools passed the House unanimously.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB2: Public Education Budget Amendments $31.7 million ongoing and $44.8 million one-time in additional new funding for public education. This is new funding beyond the $400 million already approved earlier in the Base Budget (Senate Bill 1). House Bill 2 passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature. Highlights from HB2 include:

 

  • Pupil Transportation To and From School – $2.5 million
  • Beverley Taylor Sorenson Elementary Arts Learning Program – $2 million
  • Early Intervention – $7 million
  • Grants for Professional Learning – $3.9 million
  • English Language Learner Software – $4.5 million
  • Computer Science Initiatives – $5 million
  • UPSTART – $9 million
  • Statewide Online Education – $9.4 million
  • Rural Schools bridge funding – $3.6 million

SB242: Alternative Education Tax Credit Amendments enacts a one-time refundable tax credit that an individual may claim for dependent’s education expenses resulting from disenrollment in public education and enrollment in private education or home school. The UEA opposes the lack of accountability and the step away from equity for all students. It failed once in the Senate, was reconsidered and failed again on a vote of 12-14.

 

Upcoming Legislation to Watch

The final three days of the General Legislative Session are devoted to floor time in the House and Senate. View the chamber calendars.

In an interesting development, the Senate refused to concur with changes made to SB107 (6th sub): In-person Instruction Prioritization in the House. A conference committee was assigned to meet March 3 at noon to work out differences in the two bill versions. The bill would implement thresholds and requirements for the test-to-stay testing program that go into effect if 2% of the school population tests positive for COVID-19. In addition, the legislation would require all school districts to offer in-person learning a minimum four days a week as an option for students.


 

UEA Policy Ambassador Message – March 2, 2021

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission…

 

We Must Be Diligent to Protect Our Society from Prejudice

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Kristine Martin, math teacher at Grand Middle School in Grand County School District

t’s been a while since I have been so out of my element. This experience as a UEA Policy Ambassador has given me insight into how the legislature works beyond “Educator Day on the Hill.” Our UEA weekly meetings were a life raft that assisted in guiding and supporting me in this arena. There was a myriad of bills discussed, but I would like to focus on one in particular HB302: Preserving Sports for Female Students. Even though this bill was tabled in the Senate, this issue is of profound importance to me.

…I have worked hard to have two successful careers and have fought against prejudice in the workplace. Women’s explicit equality rights are still not recognized in the 14th amendment as recently as 2019. The fight for equality is not over, and this bill with the pretext of “preserving” female sports is another classification of the weaker sex…

 


 

In-person Instruction Mandatory Under Measure Passed by the House – March 1, 2021

The pace picked up considerably as lawmakers enter the final week of the 2021 Utah General Legislative Session. All schools must provide in-person instruction at least four days per week under legislation (SB107) passing the Senate today. A voucher-like education tax credit bill (SB242) cleared a Senate committee. The House passed an additional $75 million in public education funding (HB2).

Senate Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): Four UEA-tracked bills passed the Senate Education Committee and now go to the full Senate:

HB340: Mathematics and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers Program reinstates the Math and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers (MOST) Program. This is one of UEA’s top priorities. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

HB372: Start Smart Utah Breakfast Program Amendments delays the start date of the program to the 2021-22 school year, due to the pandemic. It passed the committee unanimously.

HB381: Grow Your Own Teacher and School Counselor Pipeline Program creates a scholarship program for paraprofessionals and school counselor interns to become licensed teachers or licensed school counselors. It also has funding for mentor stipends. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

SB242: Alternative Education Tax Credit Amendments enacts a one-time refundable tax credit that an individual may claim for dependent’s education expenses resulting from disenrollment in public education and enrollment in private education or home school. UEA Director of Policy and Research Jay Blain spoke against the bill. “We don’t oppose parents choosing options for their children, but public dollars should stay in public schools,” he said. He also explained that the program would be a step away from equity for all students and there is not accountability for the quality of instructional materials that will be reimbursed. A representative from the Utah School Superintendents Association and the Utah School Boards Association also spoke against the bill. It passed the committee on a vote of 3-2.

House Government Operations Committee (reported by Sara Jones): One UEA-tracked bill was heard in this committee. HB428 (2nd sub): Public Education Governance and Appeals was presented by Rep. Steve Waldrip. The bill makes significant changes to public education governance by creating a process for parents in a school district to appeal a complaint against the local school board to an appointed panel. As currently drafted, the bill creates complex requirements regarding the minimum number of parents who must sign a petition based on student enrollment, processes for signature gathering and verification, hearings by the local school board, the ability of the panel to overturn a local school board decision and, ultimately to revoke the authority of the local school board and assign USBE or another school board to take over its duties. UEA Government Relations Director Sara Jones spoke against the bill questioning how existing employment contracts, hiring or termination policies, employee evaluation processes, curriculum approval, school start time and dozens of other issues would be managed if a local school board has its authority revoked. The bill narrowly passed the committee on a vote of 6-5.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee (reported by Chase Clyde): Two UEA-tracked bills were heard in this committee.

HB93 (2nd sub): Youth Suicide Prevention Programs Amendments requires school districts and charter schools to ensure coordination between youth suicide prevention programs and certain other prevention programs. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the committee on a vote of 4-2.

Educator and Senator Kathleen Riebe presented SB229: Healthy Lifestyles Amendments. The bill would repeal the provision prohibiting the encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices and amend and expand definitions regarding refusal skills and sexual advances. Sen. Riebe testified “Every day in our schools, every day in our state, kids are feeling icky about something that happened to them and they have no idea why…Many of these things can be addressed by talking about what a healthy relationship is.” The UEA supports this legislation. The bill failed in the committee on a vote of 2-4.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB2: Public Education Budget Amendments $31.7 million ongoing and $44.8 million one-time in additional new funding for public education. This is new funding beyond the $400 million already approved earlier in the Base Budget (Senate Bill 1). House Bill 2 passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate. Highlights from HB2 include:

 

  • Pupil Transportation To and From School – $2.5 million
  • Beverley Taylor Sorenson Elementary Arts Learning Program – $2 million
  • Early Intervention – $7 million
  • Grants for Professional Learning – $3.9 million
  • English Language Learner Software – $4.5 million
  • Computer Science Initiatives – $5 million
  • UPSTART – $9 million
  • Statewide Online Education – $9.4 million
  • Rural Schools bridge funding – $3.6 million

SB107 (6th sub): In-person Instruction Prioritization was substituted several times to make it more palatable with legislators. The bill would now implement thresholds and requirements for the test-to-stay testing program that go into effect if 2% of the school population tests positive for COVID-19. In addition, the legislation would require all school districts to offer in-person learning a minimum four days a week as an option for students. The bill passed the House on a vote of 50-22 and now goes back to the Senate for concurrence with changes. The UEA remains opposed to this bill.

SB153: Utah Personal Exemption Amendments increases the value of the Utah personal exemption for purposes of the taxpayer tax credit. The UEA opposes this bill because it takes $55 million from the Education Fund. It passed the House on a vote of 70-2 and now goes to the governor for signature.

HB345 (1st sub): School Resource Officers Amendments requires enhanced training for resource officers to help stop the school to prison pipeline and clarifies requirements for the Memorandum of Understanding a school district enters in to with a law enforcement agency providing school resource officers. It passed the House on vote of 61-12 and now goes to the Senate.

HB378: Education Standards Review Committee Amendments allows USBE to appoint members to a standards review committee if the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate are not able to make the appointments in a timely manner. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB425 (1st sub): Education Monitoring and Funds Management Amendments creates consistent standards for how the State Board of Education monitors both school district and charter school management and expenditures of state funds. The bill also creates a Charter School Closure Reserve Account that may be used to pay debts owed by a charter school that closes. UEA supports the bill as a necessary progress toward greater charter school accountability. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB86: Social Security Tax Amendments enacts a tax credit for Social Security benefits included in federal adjusted gross income. The bill passed the Senate unanimously. If the bill is funded, it will be signed by the governor.

SB148 (2nd sub): Public Education Modifications requires a school district to provide parents with access to curriculum that the district uses for each grading period and to provide a student a grade or performance report for each course in which the student is enrolled that reflects the student’s work, including the student’s progress based on mastery during the grading period. It also requires a school district to provide a student enrolled in an online course and the student’s parent with access to certain information. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now go to the House for consideration.

SB226 (1st sub): Online Education Program Revisions allows a certified online course provider that the State Board of Education approves to offer courses directly through the Statewide Online Education Program and establishes the requirements for the state board to approve certified online course providers. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed the Senate on a vote of 20-6 and now go to the House.

 

Upcoming Legislation to Watch

Four UEA-tracked bills are scheduled for hearing in the House Education Committee at 8 a.m. March 2:

 


 

UEA Policy Ambassador Message – March 1, 2021

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission…

 

Now Is the Time to Seize the Day

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Hillary Emmer, school counselor at Copper Mountain Middle School in Jordan School District and president of the Utah School Counselor Association

I love musicals! One of my all-time favorites is called “Newsies.” This musical highlights the turn-of-the-century and the dawn of unions. Boys who wanted to sell newspapers had to buy the newspapers first. The big newspaper companies were increasing the prices for the newsies and this eventually led to the newsies going on strike and unionizing. They wanted fair prices for the work they were doing and to be able to have some say in what was happening.

I was thinking about this idea and how unfortunate it is that these days, sometimes the word “union” is used as a type of insult. But unions are a critical piece to ensuring that best practice and good policy happen…

 

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