Utah's unique #RedForEd path...Join us! Blog by UEA President Heidi Matthews
“Sometimes you climb the mountain, and you fall and fail. Maybe there is a different path that will take you up. Sometimes a different mountain.”
- Caterina Fake
the spring of 2018, educators across the country were joining hands, standing
up, walking out and wearing bold red to demand increased investment in public
education. The national #RedForEd movement was born.
movement resonates with our nation’s educators and parents, especially in
states where the toll of chronic underfunding is manifest in severe teacher
shortages; where class sizes are so large that, despite educators’ best
efforts, students do not receive the individual attention they need and
deserve; where zip codes dictate disparities in access and opportunities for
children; where stagnant salaries have not kept pace with inflation and driven
excellent teachers from the profession.
States like Utah.
Back in May, when national protests and walkouts were raging in several states, I
wrote an editorial for the Salt
Lake Tribune with the subtitle, “Why isn’t Utah a sea of red on the
steps of the Capitol?” My answer was, and remains, Our Schools Now.
I called it “Utah’s unique and enviable collaborative path to increased
education funding.” Unique, because it’s a different path up the mountain.
Enviable, because we have forged this path collaboratively, without the need
for exhausting protests or walking out of the classrooms we love.
don’t get me wrong – I fully recognize our chosen path may not get us to the
top of the mountain. The time for additional action may come. I also said in
the Tribune editorial “We will not shy away from action to
assure our students have what they need to succeed.” We will not!
‘Our Schools Now’ is the campaign for Utah’s #RedForEd
its core, the #RedForEd movement is about professional
educators collectively advocating for their students. Here in Utah we’re
directing our efforts towards the campaign supporting Our Schools Now and Question
The #RedForEd movement
in Utah provided the energy and motivation to inspire educators to gather tens
of thousands of signatures to support the Our Schools Now ballot
initiative. As Utah’s largest professional association of educators, the Utah
Education Association joined with the business community to develop the
initiative. In the deep red state of Utah, teachers were not protesting, we
were gathering signatures and sharing stories about what a difference this
investment would make in our classrooms and for our students.
overwhelming response to this signature-gathering effort spurred legislators
into the compromise that removed the initiative from the ballot. The Our
Schools Now compromise, forged in the waning days of the 2018 Utah
Legislature, has already resulted in significant increases to school funding,
with additional funding promised if Question 1 passes this
the original Our Schools Now proposal perfect? No. Is the
compromise perfect? Absolutely not. Many well-intentioned Utahns point to
alternative ways money might be raised or used to support students. But the
reality remains…Our Schools Now represents our best shot in
decades at realizing substantial new funding for Utah public education.
And, we recognize it’s just a beginning.
‘Question 1’ is Utah’s Most Urgent Campaign to support the
#RedForEd movement in Utah
final piece of the Our Schools Now compromise is Question
1, an opinion question asking if voters are willing to pay 10 cents more
per gallon of fuel to improve education.
choice voters make at the polls on November 6 has far more consequences than
simply paying a bit more at the pump. Many legislators, who up until now have
been hesitant to make significant new investments in education, are looking at
the vote as a signal from Utahns – Do we value public education? Do we believe
our students deserve more opportunities? Are we willing to increase our
investments in public education? The result will impact decisions for years to
choice is ours.
#RedForEd movement is alive and well in Utah! The collaborative effort of
the Our Schools Now initiative, and now Question 1,
has brought people together for more than two years. Let’s not lose this
chance to act. There is no perfect path up the mountain. As educators, we have
a responsibility to our students and we can’t shirk that responsibility just
because the path isn’t perfect.
what can you do? Join me and thousands of others who want what’s best for Utah
students as we trek up the mountain. Get involved in the campaign and
Support Question 1. Vote! Talk to family, friends and
neighbors. Get them out to Vote! Keep the education movement alive and thriving
in Utah Wear #RedForEd every Tuesday.
is truly the best opportunity to invest in our schools with our eyes on the
prize of student success.
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