A Note to Fellow Educators
Dear friends, colleagues and fellow teachers:
Today is the first day of the 2012 Utah Legislative Session. Along with your UEA Legislative Team, I will be on Utah’s Capitol Hill most every day until the session ends March 8.
Never in my more than 30 years in education do I recall a year with so many unknowns. In many ways, I feel like I am walking from a storm into a dark cave…unsure if I will find a place of refuge or a hideous beast.
There is a clear movement around the country to dismantle and privatize public education. Since we as teachers are viewed as an obstacle to that movement, there have also been attacks directly on teachers’ associations. For example, some states have lost their ability to collect dues through payroll deduction, others have lost the right to collectively bargain for their salaries, benefits and working conditions. Still others have seen public education budgets eroded by schemes to divert tax dollars to private business.
We’ve heard rumblings about each of these things happening here in Utah. Fortunately, I have many reasons for hope.
First, our Legislative Team, UniServ leaders, local leaders and many teachers have worked very hard the past few months to build relationships with legislators and help educate them about our issues.
Second, the effort to collaborate with legislators has already resulted in a few victories. We’ve seen proposed legislation changed for the better, some potentially damaging legislation dropped and other positive legislation created and moved forward.
Third, our continual drumbeat about increasing education funding to help our economy has gained substantial traction. The Governor, chambers of commerce, business leaders and others are all calling for greater investments public education.
Throughout my career, I always felt like I could make a difference. I once thought working hard in my classroom was sufficient. But I soon came to realize much of what my students needed was out of my control, so I became politically involved. That’s when I learned my efforts alone were not enough to bring about the changes necessary for my students to really succeed.
I urge you to follow what’s happening in this year’s legislature at UEA Under the Dome. Contact your legislators and let them know about issues that concern you. If you can, participate in one of our Educator Day on the Hill events.
While I remain uncertain what the future will bring, I am certain that together we are stronger and can make a difference.
I sincerely thank you for your trust and support. I appreciate all you do for our profession and for the students of Utah.
On the watch out
1/24/2012 1:03:21 PM
Sharon, you are totally correct. We (educators and public employees) have to be very involved with politics, not to keep our jobs, but because we see things first hand and we actually know how things work. We are great in number and we need to praise the good and get rid of the bad. I get appalled with how many people don’t know who represents them and couldn’t care less. These people are elected to represent us and what we stand for and not to do their private agenda. They need to be accountable for their actions and lack of knowledge. We need to keep the good and get rid of the bad. Why these are people representing what they don’t know and why aren’t we speaking out? We should be speaking out on everything, not only what affects us. We need to be proactive and show we care.
Thanks for caring and being a great leader.
1/24/2012 12:00:18 PM
Thanks for your hard work in dificult times. Sharon, you are in the right place at the right time. Your energy and tenacity will represent us well.
To the other educators who may read this: Get involved! Do something for the sake of our profession outside the classroom. Our jobs can be a challenge, but we need to put up a challenge to those who would degrade our profession.
1/24/2012 9:56:34 AM
Thank you to all that work so hard on keeping education first. Right now it is scary as an educator and as you said, so many unknowns. It is easy to turn away and try not to worry, but I am so grateful for the women and men who constantly have my back. Thanks
Utah Legislative Session/Season
1/23/2012 6:32:00 PM
I too have come to realize how very important it is to make cotact with our local legislators and let them know that perhaps all they hear from the big money folks may not be the entire truth. Thanks Sharon and the legislative team for your dedication and hard work.
Education for All
1/23/2012 5:21:26 PM
Thank you for working so hard for us. I am a total supporter of the cause for public education for all children. Education of all people is one of the most important things that makes our country great! We must stand for all children to achieve their individual potential. Then, if we help each other, all of us together are better and stronger than just a few who have had wonderful opportunities to learn.
1/23/2012 4:57:01 PM
I am proud to be a member of the association. I haven't always been a member. I have only been a member the last 2 years. Your messages make me swell with pride that I am an educator and working hard to better our society. You are an inspirational leader. Good luck with the legislature. I will try hard to follow what is happening by reading the paper and listening to the radio. I will definetely write my legislators and do my best to persuade them.
1/23/2012 3:52:13 PM
Thank you for fighting the good fight for ALL that is good in public education. Your battle for students, teachers and the good that we have in public education is greatly appreciated.
1/23/2012 3:25:16 PM
I really appreciate your words and especially your attitude. I, too, am worried about all the "private" fights over our schools. This democracy was built on good, public education for everyone. We are not a business, we are nurturers and people who care for individuals. Keep up the good work.
Thank you for the update
1/23/2012 3:25:09 PM
I thank you for the update. I realize several of our legislators have a strong desire to totally dismantle our great educational system. I pray, something or somehow, they may realize the things they propose contradict Thomas Jefferson's philosophy regarding education.
I have been retired for almost 24 years. I, too, fought in the 1960's, 70's and early 80's for recognition and change. I felt our generation made great strides but,in reality, We were lied to several times. I think we finally realized, too late, they were too crafty for us because we were not "professional" politicians.
I am now in my 80's, weak and confined to wheel chair part of the time. I am on oxygen and unable to help any one anymore. I need more care than I wish.
Please carry-on the fight! Do not believe anything our esteemed legislators say. Accept only their deeds and if absolutely necessary "walk-off" the job for a day or two. I did! They are, actually, our enemy and we know it.
Thanks for your ear.
1/23/2012 3:09:40 PM
Thanks for your inspiring words. Count on me to write letters, attend my caucus meeting, and talk to my legislators, colleagues, neighbors, and family about the issues public education in Utah faces. Let's go get 'em.
1/23/2012 3:07:45 PM
I just wanted to take a minute and thank you for all of your hard work on our behalf. I do not always agree with the stance of UEA, but I often do. I truly appreciate all you do to help the students and teachers of Utah.
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