Educators, administrators and lawmakers invited to work together at UEA convention
Weast said that part of the struggle in public schools is the pull that comes from several directions. While everyone is concerned with helping students, teachers associations have their eyes toward a school's teaching staff, and an elected district school board has its eyes toward the local community.
"The best thing we’ve got to understand is we don’t have the answer," he said. "It’s working together to find the answer. And the answers today may not be the answer tomorrow, because the world is changing."
First-grade teacher Jay Fleming said the changing world is one of the reasons he chose to attend the convention. Fleming said he was hoping to come away with new ideas for his classroom, particularly in regard to new technologies.
"The classroom has changed so much," he said. "You really need to look for technology and ways to integrate it."
The bulk of the convention focused on the classroom and resources for teachers, but some talk of politics did find its way into the exposition center. In her opening remarks, Gallagher-Fishbaugh mentioned actions by lawmakers — including pressure to teach to a test, efforts to curb the power of teachers unions and the state's new school grading system. She told educators that "silence is consent," and by not speaking up, they are tacitly approving of being told what to do.
During the panel discussion, Gallagher-Fishbaugh praised Utah's teachers as some of the best in the nation for achieving what they do considering that the state has the lowest per-pupil funding in the country.
"We have to elevate our teachers. We have to respect our teachers. We have to hold them to high standards," she said. "It is time that we stop the association bashing and the teacher bashing, because we are about kids."
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