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UEA President's Blog

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Righting the ship of Utah public education funding, By Utah Education Association President Heidi Matthews
The recently released NEA Rankings and Estimates Report shows Utah is no longer last in the nation for per-pupil funding! We passed Idaho. Utah’s growth in per-student funding from 2019 to 2020 ranked eighth in the nation. Even more incredible, Utah ranked fourth in the nation for increased average teacher salaries. We still have the distinction of class sizes among the highest in the country, but the changing direction is exciting.
What Does a Great Secretary of Education Look Like? - Editorial by NEA State Directors Mike Harman and and Mindy Layton
What does a Secretary of Education look like in the Biden administration? Many, including us, hope she looks like a lunch lady, more specifically a “salad bar specialist” who worked her way through the ranks to become UEA president through a write in campaign. She ultimately became the president of the largest labor union in this country. Yes, Utah’s own Lily Eskelsen-Garcia is on the short list being considered for this important cabinet position.
Our students value us, blog by UEA Vice President Renee Pinkney
Back-to-school 2020 will not soon be forgotten. I, like you, returned to my familiar, yet not so familiar classroom. Some of us are back to in-person, full-time teaching, some of us have a hybrid model, some of us are teaching remotely and some of us are doing all three. Teachers in Utah have always been asked to do more with less. This has never been truer than today.
Teachers are Champions, Blog by UEA President Heidi Matthews
Well, teachers – our secret is out. It’s taken a global pandemic, but now the world finally understands what we live and breathe: the indisputable, irrefutable and incredible value of our public schools.
Promoting Racial Justice, editorial by NEA Directors Mike Harman and Mindy Layton
We strongly encourage each of you to review this tremendous resource, collaborate with your peers and look for ways to promote racial and social justice within your classrooms, school and community. Together we can fulfill the vision of a great public school for every student.
The Last Three Years, by UEA Vice President Roger Donohoe
What a ride! It has been an honor to serve you as your UEA Vice President. My experiences over the last three years have cemented in my soul the importance of the work we do.
Utah's unique #RedForEd path...Join us! Blog by UEA President Heidi Matthews
So what can you do? Join me and thousands of others who what what’s best for Utah students as we trek up the mountain. Support Question 1. Get involved in the campaign. Talk to family, friends and neighbors. Wear #RedForEd every Tuesday. Vote!
Focusing Teacher Passion and Power, by UEA President Heidi Matthews
Teachers are passionate and powerful. How we direct that passion and wield that power is critical.
Uniting Utah For School Safety, by UEA President Heidi Matthews
Participation in the Day of Action may take many forms. Some actions being considered include participating in a march, writing letters to legislators, encouraging schools to host discussions on the proactive restorative practices that address root causes of school violence, observing a moment of silence and wearing orange. Our students are demanding action and the important thing is to show our unity.
Why I'm a UEA Member, by UEA Vice President Roger Donohoe
One of the first things I noticed as I began serving as your vice president was the honest and unwavering dedication that our leadership has to education, teachers and the students we teach. It still amazes me how every decision made by our leadership and staff is solidly grounded in that statement.
With the end of DACA, how do we support our immigrant students? by UEA President Heidi Matthews
To me, it’s personal. I’ve known and taught students documented under this program. This program provided hope and the opportunity for these students to move on to college and successful careers.
Education funding and racial justice, by NEA Director Ed Sanderson
So, what is our task as teachers and educators? We need to continue doing whatever it takes to see that this education scenario does not continue in our country. Our president and his secretary of education are trying to further the divide, calling it “parent choice.” We cannot let this happen in any form!
Fund Our Schools Now, by UEA President Heidi Matthews
Adequate public education funding is not simply a nice wish…it is mandated in our Utah Constitution. Policymakers had their chance, and certainly made some steps in the right direction, but it is simply not sufficient to address Utah’s public school.
A teacher holiday message from UEA President Heidi Matthews
This holiday season I want to share the incredible gift that my son gave to me last weekend when he graduated from college. No, it wasn't his diploma, although that is pretty stunning.
Now What?, by UEA Vice President Roger Donohoe
The first few months have been a great experience, far more satisfying than I ever anticipated. My first realization was just how involved UEA is in every aspect of education in Utah. We are always present and those who represent us are vocal and well respected.
Why Did UEA-PAC Recommend Gov. Herbert?
The UEA Political Action Committee (UEA-PAC) Executive Committee announced recently that it is recommending Republican gubernatorial candidate Gary Herbert in his re-election bid. Please allow me to provide some background and context for this recommendation.
Teaching and Licenses: Where Do We Go From Here?, by NEA Directors Ed Sanderson and Mike Harman
We need to rally behind anyone that is interested and excited about teaching. We need to all be supportive and help in every way possible as we move forward in the education of all children, after all, it is our goal to see that “every child” has an opportunity to receive a great education.
Don't tell me that teaching is 'no big deal'! by Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh
I've often commented that teaching IS rocket science. Teaching is complex. Teaching is a profession filled with talented and skilled individuals. Teaching deserves respect.
Thank You for the Honor of Serving as President, by UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh
The past six years have changed me in ways I could only imagine back in 2010. I have encountered some amazing educators who have positively impacted my life and instilled in me a desire to be a better person…
Providing Fair and Equal Education for All
Supporting all children with fair and equal access to public schools during the 20th century provided the bedrock for our nation to build itself into a world power. It’s time to recommit ourselves to the notion that ALL children deserve an appropriate education.
We need to get ESEA right
We need an ESEA that returns to the original intention of the legislation: fulfill our nation’s promise of public education by assuring equal opportunities for ALL of our students.
Opening Up Communication with Legislators, by UEA Vice President Tom Nedreberg
The rally was a dramatic statement by UEA and other education supporters, but it wasn’t the only thing that showed legislators how teachers feel about education. More than 400 educators came to the Capitol for Educator Day on the Hill – half of them for the first time. By attending these weekly events and talking with their representatives, these teachers opened doors for the UEA Legislative Team and gave a face to Utah public education.
Sharing the Vision, by NEA Director Heidi Matthews
As educators, must fight with all our collective might to defend against these threats, but if we do so without also providing a solution or an alternative, we fall short.
VIDEO: President’s Message – August 2014
Welcome back to school - Message from UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh
Respect for the Educator Voice
It is time that decisions regarding public education are placed with the education experts. The educator voice can no longer be ignored and disrespected.
Opportunities for All, by UEA Vice President Tom Nedreberg
Since its inception, the U.S. has been a melting pot. Nowhere is that more apparent than in our public schools, where we mix, mingle and share with people different than ourselves.
NEA RA: Overwhelming, Inspiring, Standing for What You Believe
I’ve watched over the years as delegates to the NEA RA have experienced the overwhelming reality of true democracy in action.
Teacher Appreciation Week 2013
While I appreciate that there is a special week set aside to honor educators, my admiration for what teachers do for children extends through the decades. Never doubt that our work makes a difference for children.
Thoughts on the 2013 Utah Legislative Session
As I reflect on the 45 days of the 2013 Legislative Session, I am pleased not only by what was accomplished, but also by the tremendous support expressed for public schools by my fellow educators and others.
Legislature, Don’t Forget Teachers
I urge our legislators to refrain from mandating major new education proposals and allow teachers the needed time, resources and professional development to ensure successful implementation of those initiatives already underway.
Inspirational Teachers Protect 'Their Kids'
As the stories of the heroic acts of the teachers made their way to the media, I could not help but reflect that these selfless acts are exactly what teachers would do...give their lives to protect “their kids.”
Running to Be Heard - by UEA Vice President Tom Nedreberg
With the 2013 Legislature coming up in January, there is another opportunity for teachers to step up and talk with their legislators. It’s more important than ever that we, as educators, make our voices heard.
A World Without the UEA
Remarks given by UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh at the 2012 UEA Convention Opening Session
Movie on 'reforming' schools distorts reality
Struggling schools are not acceptable. We should be working to make our public schools better for all students, but parent trigger is not a real solution.
Trust the Wisdom of the Body - by NEA Directors Ryan Anderson and Sue Dickey
We went under no illusions that our work would be easy. We knew it would be difficult…the most difficult R.A. ever. We were facing monumental changes in structure, processes and budget.
Welcome Back to School!
I have been visiting with new educators and Association Representatives throughout the state. Over and over I hear them speak of the excitement at beginning a new school year, the commitment to our children and the dedication to the profession of teaching.
Sharing Our Commitment to Excellence
We cannot underestimate the necessity to share our vision, our expertise, our passion and our commitment to excellence with those in our legislature and our community. The 2012 Legislative Session was a great beginning in this work.
Listen to Education Experts
In order to move forward and create a great public school system, we need to commit to a healthy and productive dialogue and continue to collaborate. The Utah Education Association stands ready to do just that. I hope others will hear the call and do the same. We need to continue to listen to the group of professionals who are teaching our children and not only hold them accountable but trust them.
Why the UEA supports the 'Public Education Employment Reform' bill
For the first time that I can remember, UEA was “at the table” and an integral partner in the creation of a bill. As with any negotiation, we did not get all that we wanted, but we prevented many undesirable issues from being included in the bill.
A Note to Fellow Educators
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.
Real conversations trump rhetoric
It is time for ALL parties to set aside their differences and begin the real work of improving the educational opportunities for all children.
Education excellence is everyone’s responsibility
The reality is that everyone—teachers, parents, students, schools, communities, legislators, school boards—must be partners in building quality neighborhood public schools. And we ALL should be held accountable for our students’ success.
Let’s seek solutions not scapegoats for education woes
I continue to hear the accusation that the Utah Education Association protects so-called ‘bad’ teachers. Nothing could be further from the truth. No teacher wants to follow a teacher who should not be teaching. It makes other teachers’ jobs more difficult and, more importantly, every child deserves an excellent teacher.
Attacks on teachers and what the UEA is doing
As I travel around the state visiting with educators...I hear concerns expressed about what many of us perceive as attacks on teachers and our profession and what the UEA is doing about it. I’d like to provide a few details…
This is no time for cruise control - by UEA Vice President Tom Nedreberg
It is now more critical than ever that we all work together to make sure a crisis doesn’t take our eye off of our goal of a great public school for all children. I’ve learned that, in stormy times like these, you can’t be on cruise control in your classroom or in your responsibilities as a teacher or as a member of your Association.
Don’t Slam the Door on Teachers
It is in the best interest of students and teachers for the Ogden Education Association and the Ogden School Board to return to the bargaining table, and revive the spirit of collaboration so critical to an excellent education for every child.
Collaboration is Critical
Teachers know that student learning conditions are directly correlated to teacher working conditions. Too often, discussions include vilification of teachers and their association, top down management, legislative attacks, an unwillingness to bargain with teachers, extreme political views, and a lack of respect for one another.
Corporate ‘Reform’ for Public Education
Poverty is the biggest indicator of school success or failure. Until we address this issue “head on” our public schools will be reduced to standardized testing factories whose sole purpose is not to educate the “whole child” but to pass a test. Is this what we want for our children?
Our Opportunity
Could it be the school reform measures being advocated by many are not grounded in research or best practices and, therefore, are doomed to failure? Looks like an opportunity for educators to take back their profession and ask the so-called “reformers” to watch and see how it’s done.
Final Thoughts on the 2011 Legislative Session
Sen. Howard Stephenson is on record stating that the UEA is all about protecting mediocrity. Are you a mediocre teacher? Apparently the answer for a large number of our legislators is ‘yes’!
The Dismantling of Public Education
It’s clear there are a few powerful, well-connected individuals who would much rather dismantle our neighborhood schools than improve them—with the end goal of creating more private and charter schools that serve (and benefit) only a few.
Dear Legislators: We want to help!
I’ve extended, and will continue to extend, an open invitation to any legislator sponsoring public school legislation to consult with us, as representatives of Utah classroom teachers, when considering how best to teach our children.
Will the real beneficiaries of public education please stand up
So, who is the real beneficiary of public education: business, parents, taxpayers, the governor, the legislature, the students themselves?
Where are the union obstructionists?
Non-educator policymakers have made our jobs more difficult by eliminating practices we know work, increasing our class sizes, eliminating essential services, and passing legislation that makes our work more difficult. We are being set up for failure. It is like carrying sand uphill using a strainer.
Impending Crisis: An open letter to UEA members
It is with a great sense of urgency that I am writing to you today. I know that you are busy in your classrooms and your time is stretched to the limit. However, I am compelled to inform you of an impending crisis in our profession.
‘Hybrid Thinking’ About the Teaching Profession
Seems like the past several weeks I have spent a great deal of time thinking and speaking about how we can engage in a thoughtful and meaningful dialogue with our policymakers, administrators, parents and colleagues in order to create great public schools.
Is the U.S. headed in the wrong direction?
Finland’s teacher education programs are extremely selective, provide for one year in a master teacher’s classroom, and require three years graduate-level preparation degree at the state’s expense...It seems to me that the United States is headed in the wrong direction.
It's time to change the tenor of the conversation
I want all of us to remember not to waste a single opportunity to educate those in public about the amazing teachers in our profession. Equally important, let’s hold one another to a high level of excellence!
PRESIDENT'S BLOG: Am I crazy to blog?
I have decided to write a blog. Some have called me crazy...


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