UEA Could Be Cancelled in Future Due to Poor Attendance

UEA Could Be Cancelled in Future Due to Poor Attendance

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Kimberly Houk ReportingThe Utah Education Association is looking at possibly canceling its annual UEA conference. They say relatively few teachers attend the conference, which is going on this weekend.

Teachers get a Thursday and Friday off every year to attend the UEA conference, but instead of attending they're turning the two days off into a four day weekend. And low attendance is putting this conference in jeopardy.

The UEA conference rarely attracts experienced teachers anymore, but it's still a great resource for student teachers and new teachers. Kathy Kirk has been teaching for 30 years but she hasn't been to this conference in years. She came this year to go to classes with her niece, a first year teacher.

Kathy Kirk, Teacher: “There’s a tremendous work load for new teachers and the classes that I’ve visited have given them a lot of shortcuts and info to help them.”

Tara Williams, Niece/Teacher: “Those who are here are going to take away things that they can use in their classroom on Monday.”

But many teachers are not here. The teacher's association says about 25 percent of Utah's teachers come to this conference.

Pat Rusk, UEA President: “Our teachers are parents and many of them don't get many days off. And they work a lot of long hours. And I don't fault them whenever they decide to take a four day weekend with their family. They are not getting paid."

They may not be getting paid to attend, but Rusk says the conference is still valuable.

Pat Rusk, UEA President: “We have in our room upstairs about 40 nationally board certified teachers and teachers of the year who are sitting in a booth and handing our their best ideas and saying ‘here let me help you.’"

But with low attendance the association is wondering if the conference is the best way to improve the quality of teaching.

Pat Rusk, UEA President: “I don't think we're obsolete, but I think we may need to take a look at what we're offering. And are we doing the very best that we can for the teachers?"

Rusk says many states across the nation have dropped their conferences because of low attendance. She say's Utah's association will be using this upcoming year to decide if holding this conference is worth the money it takes to have it every year.

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