Support funding to develop a curriculum that addresses the opioid crisis

Representative Briscoe is generating a new conversation in Thursday morning’s Public Education Appropriations Committee about how Utah’s secondary schools can be the first step in addressing Utah’s opioid crisis.

Currently, the University of Utah has one of the most popular science websites in the world with 16 million global visitors using teach.genetics.utah.edu each year, including virtually every secondary school in Utah. A subset of the site, “The Science of Addiction,” is the third most popular online addiction resource after only Wikipedia and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. However, this curriculum was created in 2000, and the University’s Genetic Science Learning Center would like to expand and update materials in collaboration with Utah’s science teachers.

YOU can help make that happen by contacting the members of the appropriations subcommittee BEFORE THURSDAY MORNING AT 7:30AM and asking them to prioritize this appropriations request!

Let committee members know that educating students earlier is a protective factor against future opiate abuse, and a small investment now will have incredible returns for our communities, all of which are impacted by the opioid crisis (which has no socioeconomic or cultural boundaries). 

Click here to find out more about the curriculum. And read the Q&A below to address common questions and consider using them as talking points for legislators who may also be on the fence.

Q&A

How will the opioid curriculum be created? The materials will be developed using the Genetic Science Learning Center’s existing Master Teacher Curriculum Development process which includes teachers and scientists in collaboration, including the University’s top researchers.

Isn’t this asking teachers to take on too much? This will support the existing state core standards and will be created with Utah biology teachers who already teach many of these concepts. This will help teacher’s do their jobs while supporting a more broad social good.

Is opioid education appropriate for young learners? The Genetic Science Learning Center is familiar with creating developmentally appropriate curriculum for their interactive site. A significant body of research also shows that middle and high school are key times to engage students in conversations about opioid abuse.

Does the legislature have money for this curriculum when education already lacks adequate funding? This small appropriation (150K for two years) would have significant returns in the costs related to opioid addiction. If a collaborative curriculum that’s created by and for teachers can be used, it also helps teachers do their jobs without appreciably impacting the existing education budget.

Does the opioid abuse crisis really impact students? Utah ranks 7th in the US for drug overdose related deaths and opioid deaths impact all Utah counties. With such a broad reach, this undoubtedly impacts school communities.

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