DENVER, CO – The House Education Committee today revised legislation to address the teacher shortage by investing nearly $52 million in federal Economic Recovery and Relief funds to save teachers money.
“Educators in Colorado have been through so much the last few years while at the same time, our state is facing a critical teacher shortage,” said Rep. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins. “We are going to use over $50 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to save student educators money and break down costly barriers to becoming a teacher in Colorado. This bill will help every student in our state have access to a high quality public education that will prepare them for success.”
“This bill will help Colorado address our teacher shortage and better prepare students for success by saving student educators money and breaking down barriers to enter the teaching profession,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango. “We’re using federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to provide loan forgiveness to an estimated 5,000 teachers who recently joined the profession and create stipends to save student educators money as they pursue their important careers in Colorado’s schools.”
HB22-1220 is sponsored by Representative Cathy Kipp and House Education Committee Chair Barbara McLachlan. The bill includes multiple strategies to address the teacher shortage.
As amended, the bill now includes $10 million for loan forgiveness to teachers who recently entered the profession. Modeled after an existing student loan forgiveness program, this program will provide up to $5,000 of loan forgiveness to educators who entered the profession during the pandemic, reducing the financial burden for up to 2,000 educators.
The legislation creates and fully funds two stipend programs for two years that will save student educators over $20 million a year as they pursue the educator preparation programs. It also creates new options to assess prospective educators and allows more prospective educators to obtain temporary educator licenses, breaking down unnecessary barriers to enter the educator workforce. The program anticipates supporting over 1,300 student educators.
The bill expands opportunities for all teacher candidates and reduces red tape. It would make student teaching a paid position for income-eligible students. These educators would no longer need to work second or third jobs while finishing their teaching programs. The bill also creates a stipend program to pay for teacher competency exams, which can cost educators hundreds of dollars while they complete their licensure program. The bill expands the measures used to examine competency, creating a new pathway to initial licensure for prospective educators that expands how prospective educators can prove their competency.
The legislation builds on laws passed in recent sessions to address the educator workforce challenges, such as SB21-185, which invested $15 million into two new programs to recruit and retain educators. It also follows on bills passed earlier this session to encourage retired educators to return to school districts.