Passed! Bills to Help Students Plan for Higher Ed & Improve Educator Diversity

DENVER, CO– The House Education committee today passed legislation that would increase diversity in the educator workforce and improve financial literacy standards so that students have the tools they need to plan for the cost of higher education, manage debt, save for retirement, and achieve financial stability as they navigate adulthood. Both bills passed unanimously.

“With students taking on more and more debt to attain a higher education degree, it’s critical that we provide them all the tools they need to weigh decisions that could have decades-long financial consequences, said Rep. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins. “This bill will provide students with the knowledge they need to plan for how to pay for higher education and manage the financial aspects of adulthood so they can graduate with less debt and have the opportunity to thrive.”

HB21-1200, sponsored by Representatives Cathy Kipp and Janice Rich, would require the Department of Education to include higher education planning tools in financial literacy standards the next time they are updated. Financial literacy standards for ninth through 12th graders would ensure students understand the costs associated with obtaining a degree, managing credit card and student loan debt, buying a home, and saving for retirement. The updated standards would also include tools to help students manage student loan debt and access both federal and Colorado higher education financial assistance. The bill adds how to budget and pay for higher education and how to manage student loan debt to the suggested financial literacy curriculum and requires school districts to inform students and parents about the importance of applying for state and federal financial aid. 

“All Colorado students should be able to see themselves in their teachers, but we see far more diversity among our students than we do in our educator workforce,” said Rep. Naquetta Ricks, D-Aurora. “We know students of color do better when they have a teacher with a similar background. That’s why we’re taking action to help make our educator workforce more diverse.”

“Educators are so important in our childrens’ lives, but far too often in Colorado, students grow up without ever having a teacher that looks like them or shares their life experiences,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez. “The legislation we moved forward today will help bring greater diversity to our schools and classrooms and ensure that more Colorado students have the role models they need to thrive.”

HB21-1010, sponsored by Representatives Naquetta Ricks and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, passed unanimously and directs the Department of Higher Education and the Department of Education to create a workgroup on diversity in the educator workforce. The workgroup would investigate barriers to the teaching profession for educators of color, including obtaining a professional license, and recommend strategies to increase the preparation, recruitment and retention of a diverse educator workforce to serve Colorado students. In Colorado, 76 percent of teachers are women and 67 percent of teachers identify as white women.The bill requires the departments to report on graduation rates from teacher preparation programs, as well as first-time pass rates on the educator licensure exam, broken out by gender, race and ethnicity. 

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