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'Do what’s right for students,' Utah educators watch teacher walk-outs in neighbor states

'Do what’s right for students,' Utah educators watch teacher walk-outs in neighbor states

(KUTV) – Teachers in Arizona and Colorado are preparing to leave their classrooms in protest Thursday and Friday in a fight for education funding.

It’s a fight that educators in Utah know well.

“I’m excited to see the passion of our educators working so hard to do what’s right for our students,” Executive Director of Utah Education Association Lisa Nentl-Bloom told 2News. “The teachers themselves and the educators are realizing that students deserve more.”

Colorado teachers have two weeks before the end of the state legislative session, making their efforts all the more urgent.

Teachers have already walked out of class in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona – where the governor recently promised to raise teacher pay by 20-percent by 2020.

Utah educators say they made strides on education funding during the 2018 legislative session. A statement from “Our Schools Now” referred to 2018 as “the year of education in Utah.”

“We have been the lowest funded state per student, we just surpassed Idaho, so we’re moving in the right direction, not fast enough, but hopefully better,” Nentl-Bloom said.

Teacher recruitment and retention, however, remain difficult for Utah school district.

An ongoing study from the Utah Education Policy Center at the University of Utah followed a group of teachers that started in 2008. By 2018, the study found 56-percent of the teachers in the group left the profession.

“Our finding of teacher satisfaction are really consistent with what we find in other states or nationwide,” researcher Yongmei Ni, PhD said.

Ni is the assistant director of the policy center which is trying to find out why teachers are attracted to education, and why they are leaving.

“The teachers want to be teachers because they want to make a difference – that is great … there are many things we can improve to help teachers stay in the profession,” Ni said.

The center would like to have more input from educators in Utah. You can contact them here: https://uepc.utah.edu

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