The 2022 Legislative Preview brought together community members, legislators, and subject experts to discuss key issues that will be addressed during the 2022 Legislative Session
On January 11, United Way of Salt Lake invited legislators, community members, and subject matter experts to discuss some of Utah's key issues that will be addressed in the upcoming legislative session.
The event began with opening remarks from Spencer J. Cox, Governor of Utah; Bill Crim, President and CEO of United Way of Salt Lake; Mikelle Moore, United Way of Salt Lake Board Chair & Chief Community Health Officer at Intermountain Healthcare; and Bryon Stock, General Manager of Chevron Refinery in Salt Lake City.
Governor Cox spoke about the community's response to COVID-19, how we can further invest in Utah's students, and the importance of celebrating diversity in our schools.
"Every dollar we invest in our kids pays off in tangible benefits," he said.
Watch the Opening Statements:
Attendees then split into three groups to hear panels of experts discuss United Way of Salt Lake's legislative priorities: Belonging and Inclusion in Utah Schools, Early Literacy, and Optional Full-Day Kindergarten. Learn more and watch the full panels below:
Belonging and Inclusion in Utah Schools
Creating Safe and Inclusive Schools
All students in Utah have the right to receive an education in a safe and inclusive environment, one that’s free from harassment and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and physical and mental abilities. This environment is not a reality for many students across the state. This engaging panel informed attendees about the current issues related to inclusion and belonging in schools, considered the ways discrimination acts as a barrier to success, and discussed how Utah can ensure all kids and families have opportunities to thrive.
• Esai Castaneda, Grassroots Leadership Organizer, United Way of Salt Lake
• Representative Sandra Hollins, Utah State House of Representatives
• Steve Swensen, Co-Founder, Support our Students
• Senator Todd Weiler, Utah State Senate
• Brian Yazzie, Diversity & Equity Coordinator, Provo City School District
Equipping Educators, Parents, and Communities to Help All Students Read on Grade Level
Currently, 53% of Utah 3rd graders do not read at grade level, and within that group, there is a 15-percentage point gap in early literacy between non-low-income students and their low-income peers and a 20-percentage point gap between white students and students of color. These gaps persist through high school and have a significant negative impact on health and economic mobility into adulthood. This panel focused on key legislation to equip educators, parents, and communities to help all students read on grade level.
• President Stuart Adams, Utah State Senate
• Flor Cuevas, Grassroots Leadership Organizer, United Way of Salt Lake
• Representative Carol Spackman Moss, Utah House of Representatives
• Dr. Rich Nye, Superintendent, Granite School District
Optional Full-Day Kindergarten
Expanding Access to All Utah Children
At a national level, 82% of kindergarteners participate in full-day kindergarten (FDK). In Utah, less than one-third (30%) of kindergarteners participate; that number reflects the availability of FDK programs. Utah’s optional enhanced kindergarten program is grant-funded and aimed at children who need extra support in education. Research shows that all students benefit from full-day kindergarten in a variety of ways: Utah kids in full-day kindergarten regularly perform 2 to 4 times better than their half-day kindergarten peers with regards to basic kindergarten proficiencies. This panel discussed the effort to make sure all Utah children will have the option to participate in a full-day kindergarten program.
• Senator Luz Escamilla, Minority Whip, Utah State Senate
• Amy Mitchell, Executive Elementary and Title I Director, Washington County School District
• Kristina Pexton, Parent and Family Life Commissioner for Utah PTA
• Representative Steve Waldrip, Utah State House of Representatives