On Thursday, January 27th, PEBC had the great honor of hosting a roundtable discussion with Senator Michael Bennet and P-12 teachers from across Colorado. The conversation, held on Zoom, brought the voices of 12 teachers from across Colorado’s diverse school districts and geographies together to share their viewpoints and experiences on teaching and learning, during the pandemic, directly with Senator Bennet and his staff.
The teachers – a mix of PEBC Teacher Residency alumni and mentors, Professional Learning clients, and TeachPlus Colorado fellows – brought a wide range of perspectives from across the P-12 spectrum, and represented districts on the Front Range, Eastern Plains, Northern Colorado, San Luis Valley, Southwestern Colorado, and the Western Slope.
The group discussed the challenges facing students, schools and teachers as Colorado and the nation continue to meet the needs of students in the midst of the COVId-19 pandemic.
Senator Bennet – a former Denver Public Schools superintendent – was keenly interested in the insights of the panel and their on-the-ground perspectives.
The issues and opportunities that the teachers shared with Senator Bennet included:
- Challenges continuing to face students including behavior challenges, mental health, access to high-quality early childhood education/preschool, and trauma that was induced or exacerbated by the pandemic
- Workforce challenges including burnout, a lack of trust/respect of teachers as professionals, the lack of substitute teachers and other unfilled support positions within districts, the long-term concern of recruiting and retaining teachers, and challenges related to an increasingly politicized environment for teaching at the local and national level
- Equity issues related to education, such as the lack of affordable housing for teachers (who often cannot afford to buy a house in the communities where they teach), and a need for more diverse teachers
While these challenges can be intimidating, the teachers stepped up to the plate to share what opportunities there might be for greater federal support in order to better support students and teachers — for example, investing in school readiness programs and high-quality preschool to impact readiness to enter kindergarten; increasing the availability of affordable housing; and investments in mental health, social-emotional, and trauma-informed practices to equip students and teachers with additional tools and resources.
“When Sen. Bennet asked us to convene diverse teachers from diverse geographies across our state, we were honored to elevate teachers by giving them this platform,” said Sue Sava, President and CEO of PEBC. “We are so thankful for our teachers’ courage, resilience and fortitude during these unprecedented times.”
PEBC believes that education policy is strengthened when teachers have a seat at the table and we will continue to look for opportunities to engage our state (and national) network of exceptional educators to share their perspectives with policymakers at the state and national level.