Colorado needs to cut financial barriers for people interested in becoming teachers, Democratic candidates for the State Board of Education said at an Aug. 12 public forum.
Kathy Plomer, Democrat and candidate for newly created large seat on the State Board of Education, and Joseph Shelton, a Democrat running to represent the board’s 5th Congressional District, spoke at the forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Pikes Peak Region (LWVPPR ) and local educational organizations.
“I think the state could do … a better job of helping make it clear what teachers need to get licensed, where they need to submit the paperwork and making that process easier for students,” Plomer said. “We need to do a lot more to encourage more students to teach today.”
Plomer’s daughter was a first-grade teacher last year, and Plomer said she witnessed firsthand the paperwork and payment process to become a new educator. He also noted the need for more pathways for educational support professionals (ESPs)—like paraprofessionals—to become teachers.
LWVPPR spokeswoman Shelly Roehrs, who moderated the event, said Republican opponents of Plomer and Shelton were invited to the forum but were unable to attend.
On integrating more social-emotional learning into schools, Shelton said there needs to be more funding in district budgets to hire counselors and social workers. During the 2020-2021 school year, the student-to-counselor ratio in Colorado was 278:1, well above the 250:1 ratio recommended by the American School Counselor Association, according to an ASCA. report.
“They don’t have the ability or the time to be able to visit all these students in one day to ask them, ‘How are you doing?'” or if they’re feeling worried, Shelton said.
The forum was held in Palmer High School’s small auditorium in partnership with the Colorado Springs Education Association, the El Paso Council PTA and Neighbors for Education, the public education and equity group founded by District 11 parents in Colorado Springs. Republicans Dan Maloit and Steve Durham, and Norahlyza Tung of the Approval Voting Partyhe did not attend.
The forum was streamed live on the public Veïns per l’Educació Facebook page and can be viewed in its entirety here.
Members of the Colorado Springs community can provide public comment on an upcoming edition Regular meeting of the two-day State Education Council Sept. 14-15 in Administration Building D11 at 1115 N. El Paso St.