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Educators in Colorado are facing a crisis

Teachers are working long hours to provide the best environment for their students, but it is not enough.
Elissa Nadworny
Teachers across the state of Colorado are citing stress, burnout, workload and pay as factors that have prompted the Colorado Education Association to release a State of Education report that points to increased funding as a solution to teacher retention.

The Colorado Education Association released its State of Education reportthis week. The report recommends increasing funding to schools to retain educators and provide more resources for students.

The report's findings showed educators are facing a “crisis” and are hoping for change. Funding, teacher burnoutand staffing shortages are some of thetop concerns. The report also shows that both students and teachers are struggling with mental health and the effects of not having a consistent learning environment. Teachers have to take on several roles and are unable to commit to doing what’s best for students. Colorado is also experiencing a higher need for special education teachers. The unfilled positions have caused stress and additional workload for those working as classroom teachers.

Obtaining more funding to help retain teachers and provide more resources to students is just one of the goals set for alleviating pain points.

Amie Baca, President of the Colorado Education Association, says schools cannot operate without funding.

This has had negative effects on every aspect of our schools, our students, our educators and our communities, including educator pay, the educator shortage, student outcomes, and more,” Baca said during a recent CEAmeeting.

More funding will allow for better education outcomes for all students something that Colorado is lacking.

The report highlights that a Colorado educator makes 35.9% less than "a comparable, educated professional." The state ranked 48th for starting pay in 2021— making it difficult to hire new teachers.

Safety is another concern that educators face. Survey results showed 67% of educators are very or somewhat worried about mass shootings at their schools.

While a common talking point is to "harden" schools by proving more locks, security and firearms for teachers, the CEA has found that 69% of Colorado educators surveyed said that guns in classrooms would make them feel less safe.

Kevin Vick, Vice President of the Colorado Education Association, said that educators wouldfeel safer if their mental health was supported.

Some students and teachers also face challenges when they disclose that they identify as LGBTQ. Teachers shared that they often feel unwelcome.

“The most recent Healthy Kids Colorado study reportedthat less than half of transgender, nonbinary gay, lesbian and bisexual Colorado youth felt that they belonged at their schools — at their schools. We hear the same statistics about our LGBTQ plus educators,” Vick said.

Research shows that over 25% of transgender youth in Colorado reported attempting suicide.

Data gathered will allow school officials to understand experiences of LGBTQ plus educators and how to support them in their work. They will explore how to have a positive change in communities and ensure that all schools offer an inclusive space.

Educators and school officials want to see change in Colorado schools.
The report recommends increasing funding to retain educators and provide resources for students.

A new bill, the “Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact,” would also ease the process of teacher licensing for out of state educators very soon.

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