For those who have been following recent education news, it should come as no surprise that the topic of conversation on Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol was around teacher recruitment. It has become a national crisis and one that Colorado has been acutely impacted by. At a press conference in the depths of the Capitol building, TeachStrong rolled out their first policy framework, created with 60 diverse stakeholders from around the nation. PEBC is a proud partner in this campaign and intends to contribute meaningful input and guidance to the conversation.
The policy proposal unveiled on Tuesday, entitled, “Identify and Recruit More Teacher Candidates: Identify and recruit more teacher candidates with great potential to succeed, with a deliberate emphasis on diversifying the teacher workforce,” is the first of nine policy frameworks that will be rolled out nationally to legislators and stakeholders. PEBC is looking forward to giving input on upcoming policy frameworks which include compensation, residency, teacher supports, tenure and licensure!
Interim Commissioner, Dr. Katy Anthes, started the press conference with this alarming news: Colorado will prepare about 1,000 new teachers this year but the actual need for new teachers is over 4,000. These numbers are shocking and disheartening. They generated a lot of meaningful conversation, both at the state and agency level.
A group of about 30 people convened after the press briefing for a roundtable discussion to begin a conversation about how to recruit more teachers in Colorado specifically. Many stakeholders joined the discussion including two young Latino paras who work in DPS. At a convening of education organization leaders, these two paras brought to the table a unique and powerful view point. The discussion began with Sue Sava, Senior Consultant, Policy at PEBC, framing the current state of recruitment in Colorado. Many of the stakeholders agreed that compensation, respect and time were among the most crucial considerations when recruiting and retaining teachers. Mid-way through the discussion, one of the paras took the microphone and with great emotion, pointed out the fact that many people from her community cannot afford education programs to gain a license and that they often don’t even know where to start looking for these opportunities. She stated that there are very talented people in our schools and communities, the policy makers just need to find a way to make the profession accessible to them. With a round of applause and a few cheers, the group of stakeholders clearly supported her statement.
This young woman’s short but pointed speech reverberated in the room for the rest of the discussion and was probably the biggest takeaway of the afternoon. As the TeachStrong initiative hits the ground here in Colorado, PEBC and partners will continue these meaningful discussions to help address the issue of recruitment. There was consensus in the room that we must better compensate our teachers, elevate the profession and increase support for those teachers once they are in the classrooms.
Stay tuned as this initiative kicks in to high gear — #teachstrong!