EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

UEA opposes H.B. 215, says “school choice” and teacher salaries are separate

Jan 19, 2023, 8:30 PM | Updated: Jan 20, 2023, 3:40 pm

utah education foundation...

FILE - Utah Education Association has voted unanimously to oppose a ballot measure in November that could change how education is funded.

SALT LAKE CITY — One of the bills already drawing a lot of attention in the 2023 Utah Legislative Sessions is that of H.B. 215 which provides for school choice and a pay raise for teachers. The Utah Education Association says the two items should be separated. 

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Candace Pierucci (R-Herriman). The school choice portion of the bill allows for money to be provided to parents so they can choose where their children are educated. However, that voucher or scholarship, as some people call it, is also tied to a salary increase for teachers.

It was up for discussion in the House Education Committee on Thursday.

Renée Pinkney, president of the Utah Education Association, joined Inside Sources Thursday hosted by Leah Murray and Taylor Morgan to discuss the bill.

Pinkney says the UEA is opposed to the bill. 

“So, the UEA has a long-standing position that any voucher or tuition tax credit, slash tax scholarship plan under which private education is subsidized with public tax dollars could weaken the public school system,” she said. 

Pinkney says the UEA believes the two issues in the bill should be separated and discussed individually on their own merit. 

Murray said, “It feels like a compromise to me, but it seems like it’s a non-starter for you. And could you explain that for me?”

“So, we have yet to realize a fully-funded public education system in Utah,” Pinkney said. “I was in the classroom for 27 years, and we have never had a fully-funded public education system.”

Compromising values for raise in teacher pay?

Pinkney says vouchers take limited funding away from public schools and give it to private schools.

“And instead, we must invest in our Utah public schools that 90 percent of students attend,” she said. “So, what we’re being asked to do is compromise our values for an increase in teacher compensation.”

She stresses that an increase in teacher salaries shouldn’t come with strings attached. Instead, it should be based on the vital work teachers do every day. 

Morgan asked, “Is the UEA planning to take any kind of action, like a walkout, or anything else in opposition to H.B. 215?”

“Right now, we are the beginning of the legislative session,” Pinkney said. “And we are going to do everything we possibly can to defeat this bill. Or get the two subjects separated so that they can be debated and then defeat the voucher bill.”

 

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

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UEA opposes H.B. 215, says “school choice” and teacher salaries are separate