New law to help address rural teacher shortage
(May 29) – Rep. Barbara McLachlan’s bill to help teachers drowning in student loan debt while also addressing the rural teacher shortage was signed by Gov. Polis today at the state capitol.
“We have thousands of vacant educator positions and this new law will offer a solution to that crisis. Students and hardworking families in Colorado’s rural, urban, suburban communities will be better served by this law and our educators will be better off,” 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.