Rep. Dave Williams works a deal to help desperate districts find teachers

By Joey Bunch, Colorado Politics

Feb 18, 2018

Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, brokered a compromise on a bill that would help desperate Colorado school districts to find teachers.

If the legislation can do as well in the Senate, where it’s sponsored by Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, school districts could grant a local license to an applicant who has taught three years out of the last seven, instead of the current requirement of three consecutive years.

Friday House Bill 1130 , which Williams worked on with Reps. Jeni Arndt, D-Fort Collins, and Terri Carver, R-Colorado Springs, passed the House unanimously.

The bill is still expected to help military spouses who are teachers yet who move frequently, outlined in House Bill 1095,  the bill Carver and Arndt originally brought forth.

The bill only applies when a district can’t find regularly licensed teachers or if the subject requires a unique teacher background that isn’t readily available in the district.

The district permit still requires the teacher to hold a bachelor’s degree in the subject matter and complete a fingerprint-based background check.

“Effective teachers shape our children’s future, and right now Colorado cannot afford to have an unnecessary policy preventing good teachers from being in the classroom,” Williams said in a statement after the bill cleared the House Friday.

Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver, supported the bill and lauded Williams’ leadership.

“I encourage the chamber to support it, so we can really start to address some of the teacher shortages we’re seeing across the state,” said Garnett, a member of the House Education Committee, which passed the bill unanimously on Feb. 12.

Williams said if the goal is to get qualified teachers in the classroom, the legislature would need to broaden the military-spouses concept.

“My intention was to get qualified people in our classrooms teacher our children,” he told the committee. “… To me, I’m not concerned how we get there as long as we get there.”

Legislation last year created a study of the shortages and a plan to address them.

“An analysis of Colorado’s teacher shortage areas reveals problems resulting from a decline in interest (enrollment and completion in educator preparation programs), retention of existing teachers, and retirement of veteran teachers that has lead our state to recruit 50 percent of our educators from out-of-state,” the Colorado Department of Education said in the report.