Capitol Week in Review brings you news of bills we are tracking around our priorities of advancing educational equity and racial justice in Colorado and making our schools and communities safer and more supportive.

Legislative update

HB23-1001, Expanding Assistance For Educator Programs, which supports student teachers toward the goal of diversifying the teacher workforce will be heard by the House Education Committee on January 26th.  

HB23-1003, School Mental Health Assessment, which creates the sixth through twelfth grade mental health assessment program will be heard by the House Public and Behavior Health and Human Services Committee on January 25th.

SB23-029, Disproportionate Discipline In Public Schools, which requires each school district board of education, institute charter school board for a charter school authorized by the state charter school institute, or governing board of a board of cooperative services (BOCES) to adopt a policy to address disproportionate disciplinary practices in public schools will be heard by the Senate Education Committee January 30th.

SB23-043, Continue School Access For Emergency Response Grant Program, extends the
SAFER grant program for 5 years, until July 1, 2029, and clarifies when the state treasurer is required to transfer unexpended money from the SAFER grant program’s cash fund when the grant program is repealed will be heard by the Senate Education Committee January 25th.

SMART Act Hearing

Colorado Department of Education staff presented before both the House and Senate Education Committees last week. They focused on the department’s strategic plan, student academic achievement, recent graduation and dropout rates, READ Act implementation, teacher workforce challenges, and an ESSER funding update.

Our Take

HB23-1001, Expanding Assistance For Educator Programs, which supports student teachers toward the goal of diversifying the teacher workforce is a top priority for us this session. While all students benefit from having a diverse teaching staff, students of color especially see tremendous benefits like improved academic performance and increased likelihood of going to college. Yet, many Colorado students may not have a single teacher of color in elementary, middle, or high school.

This legislation is a continuation of HB22-1220, Removing Barriers to Educator Preparation a bill we championed last session that paid for teacher exam fees, expanded pathways to licensure by allowing multiple ways to demonstrate competency and paid teacher candidates for student teaching work.

What We’re Reading

Gov. Jared Polis promises to fully fund Colorado schools within four years, Chalkbeat

Chalkbeat’s Education Bill Tracker

Welcome to a Special Edition of Capitol Week in Review!   The First Session of the 74th General Assembly kicked off this week with mostly pomp and circumstance. Members were sworn in, leadership elections took place, committee assignments were made, and legislation started being introduced. Capital Week in Review is back to bring you news of bills we are tracking around our priorities of advancing educational equity and racial justice in Colorado and making our schools and communities safer and more supportive. This week we are sharing key information about leadership in the general assembly, updates from the State Board of Education and Governor’s office as well as a rundown on our priorities for this session.

Legislative update

HB23-1001, Expanding Assistance For Educator Programs, which supports student teachers toward the goal of diversifying the teacher workforce was introduced in the House.  

HB23-1003, School Mental Health Assessment, which creates the sixth through twelfth grade mental health assessment program was introduced in the House.  

HB23-1042, Admissibility Standards For Juvenile Statements, which increases funding for interrogation training for law enforcement, as well as improves the general reliability of confessions by requiring all juvenile interrogations to be recorded was introduced in the House and assigned to the Judiciary Committee.  

SB23-029, Disproportionate Discipline In Public Schools, which requires each school district board of education, institute charter school board for a charter school authorized by the state charter school institute, or governing board of a board of cooperative services (BOCES) to adopt a policy to address disproportionate disciplinary practices in public schools was introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Education Committee.  

SB23-043, Continue School Access For Emergency Response Grant Program, extends the SAFER grant program for 5 years, until July 1, 2029. The SAFER Grant Program provides funding to encourage and provide training for seamless communivations between schools and first responders.

Senate and House Leadership Elected

Senate
President
Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder)
Minority Leader Paul Lundeen (R-El Paso)
 
House of Representatives
Speaker of the House Julie McCluskie
(D-Summit) Minority Leader Mike Lynch (R-Larimer)

Education Committee Members NaMED

Senate Education Committee Members

Chair: Janet Buckner

Vice-Chair: Janice Marchman  

House Education Committee Members

Chair: Barbara McLachlan

Vice-Chair: Matthew Martinez

Governor Polis Sworn in for Second Term

Governor Jared Polis was sworn in for a second term on January 10, 2023 in front of the State Capitol in Denver. During his inaugural address he highlighted some of his accomplishments such as free full-day kindergarten. While education was not a centerpiece of his speech, he did mention implementation of universal preschool. He also called for unity as Coloradans and acceptance of differences throughout his remarks, “No matter what part of Colorado you call home, who you are, or who you love. No matter your race, or your gender, or how you worship, or how you vote. Colorado belongs to all of us and we will all help shape our future.”

Stand Government Affairs Director, Bri Buentello joins our partners at Healthier Colorado at inaugration this week. 

Members of State Board of Education Sworn In

This week, recently elected members Kathy Plomer, Steve Durham, Rebecca McClellan, and Rhonda Solis were sworn in to the State Board of Education. Rebecca McClellan was named chair and Lisa Escárcega was named vice-chair of the State Board. Read more about the roles and responsibilities of the State Board of Education.

Members of our team attended the swearing in ceremony for the new State Board of Education members.

Our Take: Priorities this Session

Stand advocates for educational equity and racial justice in Colorado through meaningful partnerships with families, educators, schools, and policymakers by prioritizing early literacy, high school success, and safe and supportive schools and communities. During legislative session this year our team will be advocating alongside our partners for a variety of policies aligned to our mission.

Our top priorities include:

  • Expanding funding for the Ninth Grade On- Track and Expelled and At-Risk Student Services (EARSS) grant programs.
  • Repealing deceptive interrogation tactics for juveniles, updating expulsion policies, eliminating cash bail, and raising the age for detention from 10 to 13.
  • Finalizing the updated school funding formula to include a new proxy for poverty, ensure a dedicated English Language Learner (ELL) weight, create a better balance for cost-of-living adjustment amounts, and fully fund special education services across districts.

Continuing work towards diversifying the teacher workforce. 

What We’re Reading

2023 Colorado General Assembly: The people’s guide to following education issues, Chalkbeat  

First day: Colorado lawmakers pledge ‘thoughtful’ school funding debate amid budget constraints, Chalkbeat    

CSU’s teacher preparation program wins state approval, gets kudos for science of reading shiftColorado voters may be asked to forgo their future, Chalkbeat  

TABOR refunds so the state can boost school funding, Colorado Sun

We are on step closer to House Bill 22-1220 becoming a reality! 

House Bill 22-1220, which will remove barriers to support teacher candidates entering the workforce, passed the House and is being heard in the Senate Education Committee TOMORROW. We need to show Senators how much support there is for this policy, so will you send an email with one click?     

EMAIL SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE MEMBERS

HB22-1220 will:  

  • support teacher candidates by paying them for their student teaching work, 
  • remove financial barriers by paying for teacher exam fees, and
  • expand pathways to licensure by allowing multiple ways to demonstrate competency. 

Read more about HB22-1220 in this Colorado Sun article. We are proud to champion HB22-1220 because we see this policy as a pathway to increasing teacher diversity in Colorado. We know that removing financial barriers and increasing pathways to licensure will ensure a more diverse educator workforce, which is critical for all of Colorado’s students to experience just and supportive schools. 

We are on step closer to House Bill 22-1220 becoming a reality! 

House Bill 22-1220, which will remove barriers to support teacher candidates entering the workforce, passed the House and is being heard in the Senate Education Committee TOMORROW. We need to show Senators how much support there is for this policy, so will you send an email with one click?     

EMAIL SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE MEMBERS

HB22-1220 will:  

  • support teacher candidates by paying them for their student teaching work, 
  • remove financial barriers by paying for teacher exam fees, and
  • expand pathways to licensure by allowing multiple ways to demonstrate competency. 

Read more about HB22-1220 in this Colorado Sun article. We are proud to champion HB22-1220 because we see this policy as a pathway to increasing teacher diversity in Colorado. We know that removing financial barriers and increasing pathways to licensure will ensure a more diverse educator workforce, which is critical for all of Colorado’s students to experience just and supportive schools. 

High School Students With Teacher In Class Using Laptops Smiling

On March 2, 2022, the House Education Committee heard House Bill 22-1220, which will remove barriers to support teacher candidates entering the workforce. The bill passed on a 8-1 vote and now will be heard in the Appropriations Committee. During the hearing educators shared their passion removing educator barriers to increase teacher diversity. We are excited to share their testimony in support of increased teacher diversity and House Bill 22-1220.

Thank you, Madam Chair and Madam Vice Chair and members of the committee. 

I am Dr. Theresa Newsom, and I have been an educator 41 years including 26 years in Colorado. I am testifying in support of House Bill 22-1220. 

As the spouse of an Enlisted Air Force Veteran, I received my first teaching credential from Fresno State in California before we were transferred to South Carolina where I needed to obtain another license to meet their requirements. From there my husband and I were sent to England where I taught for the Department of Defense Dependent Schools at Feltwell AFB in East Anglia for 7 years. Yes, another license was needed. Then we were transferred back to CA where I had to become licensed again. I taught in the Vandenburg AFB community 7 years before coming to Colorado where I was licensed again due to different requirements from the previous locations and no reciprocity between states. 

In order for me to obtain new licenses I needed to pay fees and complete assessment competencies which included traveling to test sites. There were times I felt these barriers were insurmountable due to taking course work and simultaneously raising three children, two who are adopted.  

I completed my Master’s degree in Curriculum and instruction, became a school administrator (another CO license needed) and of course I still renew both licenses every 5 years to remain eligible to work in this state. In addition, I completed my competences to become a licensed Gifted and Talented Resource Teacher. I currently work in the field of gifted education today as the only Black GT teacher in Southern CO.  

House Bill 22-1220 will remove financial and access barriers to ensure a more diverse teacher workforce in Colorado. I respectfully ask for your ‘yes’ today on House Bill 22-1220. Thank you. 

On March 2, 2022, the House Education Committee heard House Bill 22-1220, which will remove barriers to support teacher candidates entering the workforce. The bill passed on a 8-1 vote and now will be heard in the Appropriations Committee. During the hearing educators shared their passion removing educator barriers to increase teacher diversity. We are excited to share their testimony in support of increased teacher diversity and House Bill 22-1220.

Thank you, Madam Chair and Madam Vice Chair and members of the committee. 

My name is Asia Zanders. I am a high school government and history teacher, and I am working on my master’s degree in Transformative Learning Communities. While I am speaking on behalf of Stand for Children, I am also representing all future educators in Colorado. 

Today, I am testifying in favor of House Bill 1220 because of the need to, not only, fill teaching positions necessary to enrich and prepare our children for their futures, but to fill positions with high quality and diversified educators, as well. 

Every year there have been bills created to reduce teacher shortages and recruit educators and counselors, yet every time there seems to be a failure in fulfilling what is truly needed to support that mission. While there are many factors that contribute to the shortage, we must approach the problem from various perspectives.  

Consider the positive impact financial assistance could have on educators in prep programs.  

Reducing the financial barriers to initial licensure like: paying for teacher competency exams and paying student teachers reduces the time they may take in training and possibly dropping out because they are too overwhelmed with working multiple jobs and teaching, among other life impacts. 

We are talking about removing barriers to accessing a job that requires passion and consideration of the student. Therefore, we must remove the arbitrary rules that prevent diversifying the educator workforce. 

Why aren’t we allowing teachers to show their competency in another manner? Some of my students have ADHD and other learning differences, so I allow my students to present their knowledge of the subject in the manner they choose because we all learn and portray our learning in different ways- and it works! It encourages deeper engagement with the subject and a different way of presenting it. 

This generation of educators are bound to be dedicated to their profession due to their experiences with the uncertainties of COVID. Show them your support with House Bill 1220 in removing barriers to educator preparation. 

On March 2, 2022, the House Education Committee heard House Bill 22-1220, which will remove barriers to support teacher candidates entering the workforce. The bill passed on a 8-1 vote and now will be heard in the Appropriations Committee. During the hearing educators shared their passion removing educator barriers to increase teacher diversity. We are excited to share their testimony in support of increased teacher diversity and House Bill 22-1220.

As I wrapped up an intervention session one afternoon last spring one of my students, a young Black boy, casually mentioned that he thought he might make a good teacher.  

“You would absolutely make a great teacher, Jonathon!”, I replied.  

“Too bad”, he said, disappointedly. 

“Too bad what?” 

“Don’t you have to be a white lady to be a teacher?” 

Why, in 2021, would a child assume one has to be a “white lady” to be a teacher? For Jonathan, it’s because nearly every teacher he has seen in his school career is a white female. The traditional pathways to teaching are creating artificial barriers to BIPOC teacher candidates from entering the profession in greater numbers. Just as an SAT score doesn’t give a complete picture of the true merit or potential of a future college student, a great teacher is so much more than a passing PRAXIS score; multiple options for demonstrating competency are essential to creating a diverse pool of teachers.  

Unpaid student teaching is another barrier that reduces the diversity of the teaching force, requiring some students to take on second and third jobs in their attempts to satisfy the requirements of their programs. The financial burden is just too great. Addressing these issues would remove some of the barriers that are keeping Colorado schools from diversifying their teaching staff. For Jonathon and other Black and Brown students who might have the same misconceptions about what pathways are available to them in the future, it removes barriers to dreams. 

We need more teachers. We need teachers that reflect the myriad diversities of our students. Please support HB22-1220 and let the diverse teacher candidates of today show the Jonathons of tomorrow what is possible. 

House Bill 22-1220, which will remove barriers in educator preparation to support educator candidates entering the workforce, is scheduled to be heard by the House Education Committee on Wednesday, February 23. 

HB22-1220 will:  

  • support teacher candidates by paying them for their student teaching work 
  • remove financial barriers by paying for teacher exam fees 
  • expand pathways to licensure by allowing multiple ways to demonstrate competency  

We are proud to champion HB22-1220 because we see this policy as a pathway to increasing teacher diversity in Colorado. We know that removing financial barriers and increasing pathways to licensure will ensure a more diverse educator workforce, which is critical for all of Colorado’s students to experience just and supportive schools. 

Many Colorado students may not have a single teacher of color in elementary, middle, or high school.  43% of Colorado students are BIPOC, but 87% of teachers are white. 

As the legislature convenes later this week, I am excited to share that we will be championing a bill to increase pathways for educators of color to enter the teaching profession in Colorado. Will you join us in advocating for ways to ensure Colorado’s teacher workforce is more reflective of our student population

While all students benefit from having a diverse teaching staff, students of color especially see tremendous benefits like improved academic performance and increased likelihood of going to college. Let’s show policymakers how many people support efforts to increase teacher diversity in our Colorado schools!