Frustrated members of the American Federation of Teachers called for a resolution Friday night that would require the Utah State Board of Regents to be elected by voters of Utah rather than appointed.
"The Regents oversee one of the larger budgets in state government, yet unlike their counterparts on the State Board of Education, they are not accountable to the voters through the election process," said Paul D. Henderson, executive director of AFT/Utah.The AFT/Utah's membership is made up of more than 1,000 educational employees from higher education and public education in Utah. Delegates gathered in Sandy for the AFT/Utah Eighth Annual State Convention and Delegate Assembly.
AFT members want teachers to have more input regarding educational decisions. "Who better to be able to communicate better ways of teaching than teachers?" said Sen. Ed Mayne, D-West Valley, who also serves as president of the Utah State AFL-CIO. A policy prohibiting collective bargaining in higher education, recently adopted by the Utah State Board of Regents, was the main topic at the meeting.
"Utah is filled with examples of collective bargaining - it works," Mayne told the group.
Collective bargaining does not have to be a head-butting thing, it needs to be a collaborative effort, Henderson said. "It can't happen when people in the trenches can't be involved in the decisionmaking process."
Dean Huber, president of the Salt Lake Community College Faculty Association, sees the collective bargaining issue as a tremendous loss to the faculty and administrators. "Faculty time, as well as administrators' time and resources, are taking time away from what we are really supposed to be doing - teaching students," Huber said.
Other issues discussed included school violence and student performance skills.