New advocacy group forms in Utah

Raise Your Hand Utah is a new advocacy group in the state, formed as a grassroots, not-for-profit organization to promote widespread community engagement in education. It intends to address pressing educational issues, endorse candidates for upcoming local school board races and provide a rational voice for parents, teachers and students.

Raise Your Hand Utah’s 10-member operating board is first and foremost made up of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles of school-age children. Board members also have experience at all levels of the public school system in Utah. They plan to weigh in on legislation and partner with other advocacy groups, as they encourage others to join the conversation in courageous, compassionate, empathetic, smart and civil ways.

Few governmental bodies impact day-to-day lives as much as local school boards, and the group is eager to work with prospective school board members and incumbents. Hollie Pettersson, Ph.D., co-founder and board chair, notes, “We believe that public schools were created and exist to build responsible, civic-minded and service-oriented communities. Our work will help amplify the voices of community members who are passionate about the mission of public education and are representative of their neighborhoods.”

An upcoming event open to the public includes a family engagement summit and a candidate classroom to forge new networks and build collective confidence to make a difference. It is scheduled for Saturday, February 26, 9 am to noon at Glendale Middle School in Salt Lake City.

In addition to Dr. Pettersson, Raise Your Hand Utah’s board includes former Utah district superintendents Rich Kendell, David Doty and Larry Madden; Deputy Director of Economic Development at Salt Lake City, Lorena Riffo Jenson; Utah’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, Kellie May; BYU instructor Nancy Y. Miramontes; former Jordan and Canyons school board member Kim Horiuchi; school turnaround and family engagement expert Sheryl Ellsworth; and long-time diversity, equity and inclusion advocate, Laura Grzymkowski.

For more information, please visit Raise Your Hand Utah’s website and Twitter account.