Rep. Coleman’s Diversity In K-12 Education Bill Advances

DENVER, CO– HB20-1007, sponsored by Representatives James Coleman and Bri Buentello, today passed the House Committee on Education unanimously. The bill would attempt to address the lack of a diverse educator workforce in Colorado. 

“Eighty percent of the teachers in the US are white, even though studies show that students of color do better in school when they have a teacher with a similar background to them,” said Rep. Coleman (D-Denver).”I personally didn’t have a teacher who looked like me until I was in 7th grade, and I want to ensure that all of our students have the opportunity to be served by a vibrant and diverse educator workforce. This bill will examine the barriers preventing us from achieving that reality and help us move towards that goal in the near future. 

“As a former teacher, I know that educators are driven to see their students thrive, and we know that when students have teachers from backgrounds like theirs, they are more likely to succeed,” said Rep. Buentello (D-Pueblo). “There is a need for a paradigm shift in our educational system, and this legislation would help address the shortage of diversity that our schools need. 

Under the bill, the Department of Higher Education and the Department of Education would create a workgroup on diversity in the educator workforce. The workgroup would investigate barriers to a diverse educator pool and recommend strategies to increase 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. Furthermore, only 46 percent of elementary school teachers pass the certification exams the first time despite graduating from accredited teacher preparation programs; only 38 percent of black teaching candidates, 45 percent of Hispanic candidates and 75 percent of white candidates pass the licensing test.   

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