Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Most Compelling Voices

Governor Gary Herbert speaks to the Education Excellence Commission.

Each month I leave the Governor's Education Excellence Commission with a nugget of gold that makes the time I spent making sub plans well worth it. This month it was just a comment, and it came from none other than the Governor himself. When he welcomed us to the commission meeting, he spoke of his recently released 2016 budget:

"You may like the budget, you may not. But tell your legislators how you feel!"

My first thought was, how many people actually do that? For me, I have no problem speaking with policy makers about the education bills and proposed budget each year. But for many teachers, this kind of conversation is intimidating. Inexperienced with the legislative process, most teachers don't feel that their opinions will make a difference. And given the demands placed on teachers, it's not surprising most do not engage in conversations with their representatives during the session.

My response is... I get it. I understand. And yet that, my friends, is a dangerous mind set to own.

Buck up.  Talk to your legislators!


Most policy makers have little to no experience in the classroom. How could they possibly appreciate the challenges that teachers and students face each day? It is imperative that teachers offer legislators a detailed illustration of their daily classroom journeys. This authentic voice is best spoken by teachers themselves!  Write a brief email, take photos, or even record a short video that emphasizes the needs at your school. Connect quickly through Twitter, Facebook, or other social mediums. #talktoyourlegislator!

Utah Congressman Chris Stewart visits the 5th grade at Foxboro Elementary.


There is no greater time spent for a legislator than in an actual classroom filled with students. What could be more powerful than a legislator seeing the 30+ desks in your room? What could leave more of an impression that having a legislator watch a certified teacher balance the needs of students with varying ability levels, language development, and social-emotional skills? Policy makers must consider education legislation with a realistic understanding of Utah's classrooms. YOU can provide that for them!


This is the hardest one, and I understand how much time is involved in making sub plans. For a teacher, however, talking with legislators on their turf during the session is a powerful experience! The Utah Education Association hosts educators every Friday during the session, which includes a briefing on the education bills and useful talking points. Walk the talk you give your students... be involved as a citizen and own your right to influence policy! 

As teachers, we have the most compelling voices and the greatest potential to influence policy but only if we use our voices collectively!

Buck up.  Talk to your Legislators!