Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Hunter Clapsadl, sixth-grade teacher at Diamond Ridge Elementary School in Granite School District
I have always been a bit intimidated by local and state government. Who are these people? They must be so much smarter than I am if they are a government official! How do I even know who my representatives are? The seemingly obvious but personally monumental discovery I have made this legislative session is that these elected officials are just regular people.
Over the course of the legislative session, I sent many emails to different representatives and senators, some from my district and some outside of it. I was met with responses from a handful and even though I had quite a few emails that never saw a response, it was refreshing to be able to actually make contact with people working in my state. After these emails though, I felt that my general questions were not really achieving my goal of building relationships with those in our local government.
I decided to reach out to the representative and senator local to my neighborhood and simply introduce myself. I expressed that I am a young educator in Utah and that I would love to contribute ideas and insight to the ongoing conversations about education in our government. I was met with a warm response from both, and one even offered to schedule a Zoom meeting or socially distanced interaction to get to know one another and begin to establish a relationship (after the busy legislative session of course). I was shocked that my representative not only responded to me but went so far as to extend an invitation to get to know one another better.
At the end of the day, we are all just people who are working to create the best possible environment for our students. We do not have to be petrified or insecure when it comes to contacting our government officials. If you are an educator, I encourage you to see who your local officials are and see if you too can establish closer contact with them. The more educators we have involved with legislation involving education the better we can have our voices heard which, in turn, will create a better learning environment for our students.