A bill that would have allowed understaffed rural Colorado school districts to hire unlicensed teachers was spiked by its sponsor after he was unable to find enough support.
“I’ve gotten a lot of flack over it, and it’s not ready for prime time,” said Rep. Jim Wilson, a Salida Republican. “If your troops are still arguing, I’m not dumb enough to lead the charge.”
Along with providing flexibility on hiring unlicensed teachers, House Bill 1178 would have created a process for rural schools to receive waivers from state law.
The State Board of Education, which is responsible for granting waivers, and the Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, criticized the bill.
The union is a stalwart defender of the state’s licensure policies and objects to allowing unlicensed teachers in the classroom.
Wilson took a shot at the objections.
“My question is: Who is going to be concerned between unlicensed educators versus no educators?” he said. “There’s no easy simple solution to going out and finding (licensed teachers). They’re not there. I’ve never seen this kind of crisis — ever.”
State lawmakers are considering two other bills to address the shortage of teachers, which is concentrated in certain geographic areas and subjects.
On Monday, the House Education Committee on a party-line vote approved a bill that calls for the state’s education and higher education departments to create a strategic plan on the issue.
Lawmakers are also considering a bill that would grant rural school districts more flexibility in hiring retired teachers.