House Approves Education Bills to Help Kids from Elementary School to College

(Ap. 18) – The House gave preliminary approval to two bills that would help teachers drowning in student loan debt and encourage young girls to go into the STEM field.

“In Colorado we have 3,000 educator positions going unfilled. This bill will help us address the educator shortage crisis impacting classrooms in our rural, urban and suburban schools,” said Rep. McLachlan, D-Durango, a former teacher and chair of the House Education committee.

SB19-003 is a bipartisan bill that would award up to $5,000 of qualified educational loans for up to five years for teachers and educators employed in qualified positions under the program and targets teachers and rural or other hard to fill locations or content areas. The bill also alters the teacher loan forgiveness program, renaming it the educator loan forgiveness program and revises the eligibility criteria for the program.

Contributing to a dire shortage of educators in many Colorado communities are a lack of access to affordable housing in rural communities, salaries that are below state or national averages, coupled with sky-rocketing student loan debt and fewer people choosing to enter the profession.

SB19-003 passed in the House by a voice-vote. A final vote will be completed at a later date.

The House also gave preliminary approval to a bill would get more young women and underrepresented groups more involved in STEM.

“We are getting these kids ready for jobs that haven’t even been imagined yet. Right now, we can’t see the full extent of the gender gap in computer science classrooms because Colorado doesn’t gather that information,” said Rep. Esgar. “If we start gathering this information, we can better come up with solutions to solve this problem.”

HB19-1277 also provides computer science classroom participation data to understand the extend the gender gap in Colorado.

“I am so excited to be sponsoring a bill like this. We need to encourage our students, especially our young girls and underrepresented students to get involved in tech and science, which offer high paying jobs,” said Rep. Cutter, D-Evergreen. “This is a responsible investment in the future of our children and the future of our state.”

The bill would provide $250,000 per year to grant funding for three schools and districts who want to offer computer science courses and afterschool programs with an emphasis on participation by underrepresented groups, such as women.

HB19-1277 passed by a voice-vote. A final vote will be given at a later date.

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