DENVER, CO– The House Education Committee today passed legislation sponsored by Representatives Barbara McLachlan and Julie McCluskie to create critical new teacher training, recruitment, and retention programs. The bill passed 7-1.
“Teachers are used to doing two things at once, and that’s what we’re doing here in Denver as we work to help students get back on track while also addressing one of the most significant long-term challenges in education: our educator shortage,” said House Education Chair Rep. Barabara McLachlan, D-Durango. “This bill helps Colorado build back stronger from the pandemic by investing in two new initiatives that will train and recruit more teachers, create teaching jobs, and prepare Colorado schools for the future. Importantly, it will also provide mental health support to educators, which will help districts retain more teachers.”
“Schools across Colorado are struggling to find teachers to hire and to retain the teaching force they already have,” said Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “The programs we’re creating will encourage new teachers into the profession, pay for critical training and certification programs, and make it easier for high-school students and graduates to earn postsecondary credentials to become educators. We have a lot of hard work ahead to bring more people into the teaching profession, but this bill is a big step forward to address Colorado’s teacher shortage.”
SB21-185 would reduce the teacher shortage in Colorado by helping districts retain and recruit new teachers. The bill directs the department of education to publicize teacher preparation programs and facilitate entry into the teaching profession. Specifically, the bill creates the Educator Recruitment and Retention (ERR) program in CDE to provide support to local education providers to recruit, select, train, and retain highly qualified educators across the state. Eligible ERR participants may receive up to $10,000 for the tuition cost of participating in an educator preparation program. Furthermore, the bill allows a public or charter school to hire a teacher who holds an adjunct instructor authorization to teach in all content areas.
The bill restores two grant programs that were cut last year due to the pandemic: the Quality Teacher Recruitment Program and the Educator Loan Forgiveness Program. In addition, the bill creates the Teacher Recruitment Education and Preparation program (TREP), which would aim to increase the number of students entering the teaching profession and create a more diverse educator workforce to reflect the diversity of the state. A TREP participant may concurrently enroll in postsecondary courses in the two year directly following the year in which the participant was enrolled in grade 12. Finally, the bill charges the University of Colorado with establishing and operating an educator well-being mental health program to provide support services for educators.