The hurdles Utah public schools and teachers face are complicated by the enormous changes we face every year. In the Utah State Legislature this year, there are 110 bills which deal directly or indirectly with public education. Imagine if you faced this daunting number of changes every 12 months in your chosen profession!
I believe that policymakers have a difficult and thankless job, but I am struck by their lack of knowledge of public education: the hurdles we continuously jump over, the lack of a level playing field for ALL students and teachers.
I’m struck by the audacity of non-educators telling me–a professional, dedicated teacher–how to do my job, as well as the untruths spoken by some regarding what happens in my neighborhood school with teachers and my Association. Some Legislators make blanket statements, which may or may not be grounded in fact; impose legislation, which may or may not be based on proven practices; vilify teachers and my Association as the “problem” with our schools; then advocate redirecting public education funds toward private and charter schools, which benefit only the most privileged of Utah children while ignoring the neediest of my students.
It is clear that there are a few powerful legislators who are instrumentally dismantling our neighborhood public schools in favor of privatization and charter schools. Differences of opinion are no longer tolerated; opponents are viewed as enemies if not terrorists. What is it going to take for some of our elected officials to set aside the self-interests of a small group of people and represent their entire constituency? I hope it doesn’t mean losing our neighborhood schools who educate ALL children regardless of their circumstances.