Can One Voice Make A Difference? - Legislative post by UEA Policy Ambassador Joana Pace
Legislative report submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Joanna Pace, second-grade teacher at Amelia Earhart Elementary School in Provo School District
We are all familiar with suspense in movies and shows, but how about in politics? This legislative session has been more of a nail-biter for me (I am new to this so maybe this is normal). Between a potential $300 million cut to education funding (delayed for more study), voucher programs and the TSSA (Teacher and Student Success Act), it’s been quite the ride. On a personal side-note, there was also a bill proposed to change the adoption language in Utah, which, if passed in its original language, could have been really devastating for hopeful adoptive parents. Good intentions are at the heart of these bills, but each one could have negative implications for me, for my classroom and for my school.
Provo educator Joanna Pace (left), met with her
representative during Educator Day on the Hill Feb. 1
In the past, I would have been blissfully unaware of any of this. Perhaps if the legislation became law, I would have been frustrated and upset that it happened and felt once again powerless to do anything about it. I would not have seen the many lobbyists and educators working behind the scenes to inform and work with legislators.
This year, because I took the time to be a bit more informed I was able to be a part of the process and appreciate that some of these things and people DID work for our good. I also saw that potentially harmful measures DID NOT pass and feel that there may be hope for education and educators in this state. Can one voice make a difference? Certainly our voices are stronger together, but each of us has the power to be an advocate for our students. I added my voice in protest of vouchers, cuts to education funding, the aforementioned adoption bill, and others. I also added my support to a change in the school grading system and an increase in the WPU. I was able to meet with a few representatives and, because of that connection, I felt more confident in who I should email about concerns throughout the session. And because of the connection, they actually emailed me back.
About UEA Policy Ambassadors—
In 2019, seven teachers volunteered to become UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members.