We’ve previously written about our efforts to create a more resilient education system in Colorado, including our work with Keystone Policy Center on the Education System Resiliency and Innovation Initiative (ESRII), which resulted in the Rebuilding Stronger report distilling the specific recommendations for state and local action developed by 80+ stakeholders from across the state.
Recently, some of the specific recommendations in the ESRII report have been incorporated into an exciting piece of legislation introduced by Senators Bob Rankin (R - Carbondale) and Rachel Zenzinger (D - Arvada). SB21-185 - Supporting the Educator Workforce in Colorado - draws on several recommendations from the collective work of the ESRII coalition, as well as the previous work of the legislature, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), and the state’s broad education ecosystem. The bill’s sponsors in the House are Representatives Barbara McLachlan (D- Durango) and Julie McCluskie (D - Breckenridge).
Specifically, the bill:
- Allows a school district or charter school to employ a person who holds an adjunct instructor authorization to teach in all content areas in order to address recruiting challenges and establish a diverse workforce.
- Creates the educator recruitment and retention program (ERR) in CDE to provide support to members of the armed forces, nonmilitary-affiliated educator candidates and local education providers to recruit, select, train, and retain highly qualified educators across the state. Eligible ERR program participants may receive up to $10,000 for the tuition cost of participating in an educator preparation program.
- Creates the teacher recruitment education and preparation program (TREP program). Two of the main objectives of the TREP program are to increase the number of students entering the teaching profession and to create a more diverse teacher workforce to reflect the ethnic diversity of the state. A qualified TREP program participant may concurrently enroll in postsecondary courses in the 2 years directly following the year in which the participant was enrolled in the twelfth grade of a local education provider.
- Requires CDE to direct resources to publicize existing teacher preparation programs to facilitate entry into the teaching profession. The bill also requires the department to provide technical support to school districts, boards of cooperative services (BOCES), and charter schools to assist them in accessing the existing programs and in recruiting individuals to pursue teaching careers.
- Requires the state board for community colleges and occupational education, the department of higher education, and the deans of the schools of education in Colorado institutions of higher education, to collaborate and design a teaching career pathway for individuals to enter the teaching profession.
SB21-185 passed it's first committee hearing in the Senate Education Committee on March 31, 2021 on a bipartisan, 5 to 2 vote. We’re looking forward to tracking the progress of this bill and bringing in the diverse voices and perspectives of the ESRII coalition to the table in support of this important legislation for the future of Colorado's education workforce.
Other bills we are paying attention to, and that PEBC’s Board of Directors have taken a support position on, include:
- SB21-106, Concerning Measures to Improve Successful Transitions from High School to Post-High School Training, which would expand the Innovative Learning Opportunities Pilot (ILOP) to more school districts in Colorado, to increase the relevancy of high school learning and enable more career-connected learning opportunities for students
- HB21-1010, Diverse K-12 Educator Workforce Report, which would direct resources to CDE and CDHE to establish a working group to make recommendations for how the state can continue to diversify it’s educator workforce, and make some important changes to how the state tracks how effective our education institutions are in helping teacher candidates pass their licensure exams (the Praxis exam). This bill recently passed unanimously (9-0) out of the House Education Committee.
- HB21-1164, Total Program Mill Levy Tax Credit, which forms the basis for a question the legislature will bring to the Colorado Supreme Court with important implications for equitable school funding.