Our Schools Today
I was on the Campaign trail yesterday campaigning through four counties on a beautiful spring day to introduce myself to people in House District 73. The main topic voiced by the constituents I chatted with centered on the challenges of EDUCATION in Utah.
In Garfield County, during my first stop, I met a new store owner in Antimony. He is a former teacher from Cache Valley but after five years teaching high school he looked at his year-end earnings of $22,000 and realized he made more as a ranch hand six years prior. He was not making enough to raise a family. He left teaching and now owns and operates a small mercantile with campsites, café and gas pump. He lamented a bit that he has always encouraged his children to get a good education for better job opportunities, and yet he said, “Here I am with a Master’s in School Administration, flipping burgers.” He thinks teachers should be paid a living wage.
Just up the road in Piute County at Otter Creek, I met a store owner who is a special education teacher at the high school over in Junction, Utah. She has acquiesced to the low pay because of the outdoor attributes Piute County affords- the small seasonal business she owns augments her income. Her concern stems from the imbalance of pay throughout the State. After training new teachers for a few years she said, “They leave for the more affluent schools up north, seeking better pay, time and time again.” She wants to see teacher pay equalized throughout the state in order to attract the best teachers to rural schools and then retain them.
Later, in Wayne County we met a school psychologist who migrated from California in the nineties, to work in a northern Utah school district. Receiving the offer for her new job in Ogden, she found the pay scale to be 37% of her California pay. She left the schools and eventually started a business in Torrey.
Talented, innovative, and hardworking teachers need to be recognized for the value they add to our communities and the role they play in educating our children, our future workforce. If we truly value our children and want to have a qualified workforce in Utah we must focus on funding schools and educators and equalize pay throughout Utah. The Our Schools Now initiative has my support and as your District 73 House Representative, I will work to find new and stable funding sources for rural schools in Utah.