Speaker of the House addresses education as major focus in upcoming session

Members of the House of Representatives gather for the opening ceremonies, including an address from Speaker of the House, Becky Lockhart.

By Katelin Rodgerson

SALT LAKE CITY – Education will be a major focus during the 2014 General Session of the Utah Legislature said Speaker of the House, Becky Lockhart on Monday Jan. 27.

After an invocation, posting of the colors, singing of the national anthem and reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, the session began. All but two representatives were present for the opening ceremonies of the 2014 General Session of the 60th Legislature.

Lockhart, began her remarks by welcoming the representatives and those present in the gallery to the people’s house, she assured the audience that even though Washington is in chaos, Utah should be proud. Though we are in no current crisis, Lockhart said there is much work to be done.

Lockhart spoke much about the education systems in Utah, saying that education is a public trust we share with all of our children and all of our society. She said Utah is blessed with the most involved parents and dedicated teachers in the country.

She also told legislators that one of the most unproductive and unpleasant discussions on the Hill concerns money in the school systems.

“We should be proud of the investments we’ve made in our schools, especially in tough times,” said Lockhart. “We need nothing less than an education renaissance in Utah, a modernization that embraces the best of our traditional approach and expedites a break with the outdated ways of the past.”

In her speech Lockhart proposed solutions such as reinvesting in teachers, reconnecting locals with the school board, and utilizing technology for the benefit of the student.

“We can’t simply demand that [students] put away their phones and their tablets and their laptops and believe we have created an optimal learning environment,” said Lockhart of technology. “Let’s engage the tools of today and intersect with the technology that students are using to learn everything in the world right now.”

One of the speaker’s goals is to see every student kindergarten through twelfth grade have access to and understanding of technological devices in order to ensure they’re success in their future participation in the economy.

“Our schools are too important – the stakes are simply too high – for us not to come together and not deliver the very best,” said Lockhart.

Another issue mentioned by the Speaker of the House that will be on the table this session is taking an honest look at transportation development and cleaning up Utah’s air.

Lockhart said Obamacare was a costly and catastrophic federal mandate, calling it “a trap” and an out-in-the-open bait and switch that was guaranteed to leave Utah worse off.

“Take it from a nurse,” she said, “band-aid solutions never last,” said Lockhart.

Lockhart also addressed the Swallow scandal, saying that while some questioned the amount of money legislation was forced to spend to find the truth, public integrity has no price.

Four lions guard the state’s capital, and Lockhart said their names are: Fortitude, Integrity, Honor, and Patience, and these four virtues will guide the legislation through anything, no matter the difficulty.

“We have been given a great responsibility,” concluded Lockhart. “Let’s get to work.”

The 2014 General Session will continue through March 13, 2014

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