Bill to Increase Diversity in Educator Workforce Passes House

DENVER, CO — The House today passed Representative Bri Buentello and James Coleman’s bill to foster a more diverse educator workforce on third reading. The bill was approved by a vote of 50-13.

“As a Latina and a former special ed teacher, I know first hand how crucial it can be for students to have educators who reflect their identities and life experiences,” said Rep. Bri Buentello, D-Pueblo. “I’m always looking for ways to support teachers and improve our educator workforce, and I’m proud that the House voted to do just that today.”

“Study after study has shown that students of color do much better in school when they have teachers with backgrounds and identities similar to their own,” said Rep. Coleman, D-Denver. “I know from my own experience that having a teacher who looked like me made all the difference in my education and upbringing. Today, we’re hoping to make a difference for students of color everywhere in Colorado.” 

Under HB20-1007, the Department of Higher Education and the Department of Education would create a workgroup on diversity in the educator workforce. The workgroup would investigate barriers to a diverse educator pool and recommend strategies to increase recruitment and retention of a diverse educator workforce to serve Colorado students. The bill passed on Third Reading this morning; the bill will now move onto the Senate.

In Colorado, 76 percent of teachers are women and 67 percent of teachers identify as white women. Furthermore, only 46 percent of elementary school teachers pass the certification exams the first time despite graduating from accredited teacher preparation programs; only 38 percent of black teaching candidates, 45 percent of Hispanic candidates and 75 percent of white candidates pass the licensing test.