Colorado’s state legislature is back in session! Our legislature is in session from January 9 to May 8 this year – and there is a lot of work to do in the next 120 days.
Local, state, and national leaders trust PEBC to inform the development of sound education policy that profoundly impacts success for students and teachers alike. Below is a snapshot of some of the issues we are tracking this legislative session:
Bolster the Recruitment and Retention of Educators
As Colorado and the rest of the United States continue to face a significant teacher shortage, we will support policies and policymakers looking to positively impact the teaching workforce. Specific issues we want to address include:
- “Widen the funnel” of candidates for teaching positions by expanding high-quality training programs, increasing the number of diverse educators, and supporting high-quality teacher preparation, including teacher residencies and teacher apprenticeship program models.
- Expanding high-quality instructional supports to support agency, efficacy, and retention of our current educators. For example, Governor Polis has proposed investing $25 million dollars to address math achievement, including investments in teacher training, curriculum, and afterschool STEM opportunities for students. Earlier this fall, PEBC’s Wendy Ward Hoffer was featured in this Colorado Sun article on ideas to improve teachers’ abilities to provide high-quality math instruction, and what policymakers might look to address this session.
Colorado has made progress on the above challenges. For example, last year’s Removing Barriers to Educator Preparation provided funding for individuals enrolled in student teaching and teacher residency programs, as well as funding for individuals to take the Praxis exam–both of which are effective strategies to increase access to the teaching profession. We will be monitoring the impact of this legislation and working with legislators to understand how to make programs such as these more effective.
Strengthen the Early Childhood Educator Workforce
With universal preschool beginning in 2023, communities across Colorado are planning for how this will begin to take shape locally, while the state’s newly created Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) looks to systematically address both current gaps and emerging needs in the early childhood care and education system.
A critical component of that system is a strong early childhood educator workforce. Last month, PEBC and Keystone Policy Center released a policy brief summarizing the recommendations of a stakeholder convening to improve the recruitment, retention, and support of Colorado’s essential ECE workforce. We will be looking to see how the legislature plans to support and scale this workforce, which faces critical challenges including low pay and high turnover.
PEBC also had the opportunity to sit on a stakeholder group organized by CDEC focused on Early Childhood Compensation and Benefits. This group will be releasing a set of recommendations and strategies to increase compensation and access to comprehensive benefits for Colorado’s ECE workforce in early 2023.
An updated approach to school finance? Possibly.
Also in November, the state’s interim committee on school finance voted unanimously to begin reworking the school finance formula to use a “student-centered” approach to address the needs of students in poverty, English learners, and gifted learners, among other priorities. Many of the details of this work are still to be determined during the session, and we will be paying attention to this conversation and the impact that proposed updates to the formula will have for students, educators, and communities.
PEBC will keep you updated throughout the legislative session. In the meantime, which priorities do you think are most important? Let us know on social media! #edcolo