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2017 UEA House of Delegates Report

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2017 UEA House of Delegates

The UEA’s governing body, the House of Delegates, met Saturday, May 20, at Elk Ridge Middle School in South Jordan to conduct the Association’s business. More than 200 delegates, elected by their peers in each of the state’s local associations, participated in the 2017 House, along with 27 guests. Delegates heard reports on the status of the Association, discussed and adopted the UEA Legislative Platform and budget, and adopted policies to govern the Association.

One significant change voted by the House would give additional representation to UEA-Retired members by allocating delegates to the annual UEA House of Delegates “on the basis of one delegate for every 100 UEA-Retired members or major fraction thereof.” Because this change impacts the UEA Bylaws, it will now need to be approved by a vote of general UEA membership (see more).

In addition, UEA President Heidi Matthews honored departing UEA Board members Michael McDonough (Granite), Mallory Record (Jordan) and Sonia Cardena (Ethnic Minority). She also recognized the retirement of long-time UEA office manager Nancy Pereira and noted the passing of Wasatch UniServ Director Elaine Tzourtzouklis.

Top 10 Greatest Moments in the Life of an NEA State Director from Utah

Report by NEA State Directors Ed Sanderson and Mike Harman

Based on their experiences from the past year, NEA State Directors from Utah, Ed Sanderson and Mike Harman, shared the top 10 greatest moments in the life of an NEA State Director from Utah. These moments included:

  • “No. 7: The NEA does an early endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president, and we lose members in Utah. The UEA does a Primary endorsement of Gary Herbert for governor, and we lose members in Utah…
  • “No. 6: Walking into Senator Lee’s office for the first time as a newbie and finding out that he serves “green Jello” shots with whipped cream at his reception room for all his visiting constituents, and feeling right at home…
  • “No. 5: An election occurs, the NEA nominee is not successful and President Trump nominates one of the biggest pro-charter folks around, Betsy DeVos, and now it’s your job to let Utah’s Senators know why this is a problem for Utah’s teachers and students…” and
  • “No. 1: Representing the amazing Utah educators and education support professionals on the NEA Board of Directors, and sharing your stories with our congressional delegation, ensuring they are hearing about Utah educators, classrooms and students.”

Together We Are Strong

Report by UEA Executive Director Lisa Nentl-Bloom

The past year was filled with many “wins” for the Association. UEA Executive Director Lisa Nentl-Bloom outlined a few of those in her comments to the House of Delegates:

  • The media loves Heidi (Matthews): Heidi is in demand and constantly quoted in newspapers around the state, she has been on every major local television station and is often on talk radio stations, including conservative talk radio. “In what we believe is a first for UEA, she even appeared on the English language network of Al Jazeera talking about the teacher shortage crisis.” She is changing the conversation to the teacher shortage crisis.
  • APT licensing rule: When the Utah Board of Education established a rule lowering standards for teacher licenses, we learned that “on a moment’s notice our members will show up to fight.”
  • Friendly elections: Through the hard work of UEA members, 75 percent of PAC-recommended candidates were elected, including a dramatic change in the make-up of the State Board of Education.
  • UEA Activism: Nentl-Bloom shared a few of the wins from the 2017 Utah State Legislature, attributing much of that to the participation of UEA members. “This is why UEA is strong,” Nentl-Bloom noted.
  • Bargaining Wins: The Association’s influence is being seen in significant increases in compensation, including starting teacher salaries of more than $40,000, single-lane schedules, enhanced professional development opportunities and health insurance.
Nentl-Bloom also talked about membership growth, working with the Public Education Coalition, “Take Charge” events for new educators, UEA Bargaining Summits, the Our Schools Now initiative, and new staff in UEA and UniServ offices.

Public Education – Worth Saving

Report by UEA President Heidi Matthews

What do you save when the house is on fire?

That was the question asked by UEA President Heidi Matthews as she gave her first address to the UEA House of Delegates. 

“Our house is on fire and we don’t need to save the endless steps of compliance, the rigid curriculum that robs us of seizing teachable moments, the tests, the labels. During this crisis, we need to hold on to the enormous value of public education as the bedrock of our democracy. We must preserve our right to organize and our freedom to speak out on behalf of our most vulnerable students. That is our legacy. 

“Flames of teacher shortages, (Academic Pathway to Teaching), fewer and fewer students entering the profession, National ‘Right to Work’ laws, cleverly disguised for-profit charter schools, Education Secretaries who have zero experience in public education, ALEC, lowest per-pupil expenditure in the nation…did I mention the teacher shortage? There are a number of reasons that have brought us to this point where this fire is burning – but right now we don’t study the cause – we must act decisively and swiftly.”

Matthews encouraged delegates to “…honor the legacy of what our predecessors and colleagues have courageously established in public education – high standards, access to a fair and equitable education, due process, fair wages, equity, the right to organize and a 30-minute duty-free lunch.”

“We must hold on to our core beliefs about public education and how our country was based on the promise of it – not just for some, but for all,” she said.

Action on House Bills, Budget, Other Business

The 2017 UEA House of Delegates adopted the 2018 UEA Legislative Platform and Priorities, a bill to amend UEA Bylaws, UEA Resolutions, three New Business Items and the 2017-18 UEA budget.

UEA Legislative Platform & Support Positions—

Delegates at the House approved the UEA Legislative Platform & Support Positions and Legislative Priorities for 2018. The approved documents include the addition of support for legislation that “establishes a sufficient annual WPU increase to allow districts to prioritize local funding needs,” “reduces the amount of mandated standardized testing” and “establishes necessary guidelines and oversight for effective charter schools within the public school system…”

Bills to Amend the UEA Constitution and Bylaws—

The House approved one bill to amend the UEA Constitution. The amendment allocates delegates to the annual UEA House of Delegates from the UEA-Retired “on the basis of one delegate for every 100 UEA-Retired members or major fraction thereof.” According to sponsors of the bill, the intent is to give a more representative voice to members of the UEA-Retired who currently are allotted only three delegates to represent it’s nearly 1,900 members. Active-member UniServs are allowed one delegate for every 40 members. Because the change impacts the association constitution, it will now need to be approved by a vote of general UEA membership. This will take place during the next UEA elections.

UEA Resolutions—

Each year, the House adopts UEA Resolutions to state the official UEA position on various topics. The House approved a few changes to the 2017-18 Resolutions. One change added a belief statement that “evaluations should be focused on observations and feedback, with an emphasis on collaboration and continuing improvement of educator skills and abilities.” Another notes, “if immunization is a requirement of employment…no loss in salary or benefit will occur if illness ensues.” The House also adopted one amendment to the UEA Resolutions. This amendment adds a statement on immigration policy.

New Business Items—

Three New Business Items were proposed:

  • New Business Item No. 1, proposed by the UEA Board of Directors, would create the “Envision UEA Task Force,” comprised of “early career educators/young professionals” under the age of 35 from all UniServs. The task force would report to the UEA Board recommendations to support the goals of “new educator engagement, recruitment and support campaign, as well as other efforts to engage support and recruit new teachers…” The Business Item was adopted by the House.
  • New Business Item No. 2, would create a task force to examine how the UEA spends money and how that money grows membership. The Business Item was amended to task the Board with examining these issues rather than creating a separate task force. The amended item was adopted by the House.
  • New Business Item No. 3 creates the Elaine Tzourtzouklis award for distinguished association service and directs the UEA Board to set criteria for the award. The item was adopted by the House.

2016-17 UEA Budget—

UEA Executive Director Lisa Nentl-Bloom presented the proposed 2017-18 UEA budget, which was provided to each delegate prior to attendance. The proposed budget, which was previously approved by the UEA Budget and Audit Committee, the UEA Rules and Resolutions Committee and the UEA Board of Directors, was adopted by the House of Delegates.

PAC Donations: Utah State Flag to Fly at UEA

As has become tradition, House of Delegates attendees contributed to the UEA Political Action Committee (UEA-PAC) fund in honor of a designated University. The flag of the school receiving the most donations earns a spot on the UEA’s flagpole during the UEA Convention. The University of Utah had taken the honors for four straight years before being knocked off by BYU in 2016. But after a flurry of last-minute contributions, the bottle marked Utah State wound up with the most donations. Look for the Utah State University flag over the UEA Building this fall.

Delegates also contributed through a basket raffle. In all, the activities generated a record $6,300 for UEA-PAC, nearly double the previous year’s record contributions. Ten House participants also became members of the UEA Capitol Club by agreeing to contribute at least $100 to PAC during the year.