Traditional Pathways Are Creating Barriers

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.

I am the reading interventionist for a rural Title I elementary school on the Eastern plains. I come to you as an educator to ask for your support for HB22-1220. 

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. 

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