DENVER - Dr. Margarita Bianco sees a problem in classrooms around Colorado. The University of Colorado Denver associate professor says there's not enough minority teachers and there's not enough teachers willing to work in high needs schools.
"We have teachers that will work in a high needs school district for a year or two years and leave, and that creates a challenge. It perpetuates a problem with the school system where students don't have the consistency of teachers that stay within the community," Bianco said.
Bianco testified on behalf of the House Bill 1349, also called the "Grow Your Own Teacher" bill. Aurora Democratic State Representative Rhonda Fields presented her proposal to the House Education Committee Wednesday afternoon.
"This is a Colorado initiative," Fields said. "This is an opportunity for us to grow our own teachers by having teachers talk to students about the noble profession of being a teacher."
The bill would allow schools to enter into agreements with teacher preparation programs at colleges around Colorado. The point is to encourage high school students to take college level courses which would lead them towards a career in education.
Schools in some urban areas and in rural communities have problems retaining teachers. Bianco says this bill can help solve that problem by encouraging students to become teachers in their own neighborhoods.
"Students of color, especially who go into the teaching, come back to the very communities where they live and serve their communities," Bianco said. "So, they are culturally competent. They understand the community.".
But, opponents of the bill have concerns that the proposal is unnecessary. Schools already have the options to let students take college courses while already in high school.
"Given the fact that it has no fiscal impact, and that even the fiscal note itself says that it re-encourages something that is already being done. I have questions," Republican Representative Kevin Priola said.
Priola applauds the effort, but he believes that the "Grow Your Own Teacher" bill will not lead to any significant changes.
"My thought was it basically duplicates existing statute and there's no need for the bill," Priola said.
House Bill 1349 passed through the House Education Committee by a vote of 7 to 4. The next step is for it to be be addressed in the full House of Representatives. That may happen on Thursday.
(KUSA-TV © 2015 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)