Undergraduate testifies about the financial burdens facing student teachers | CU Boulder Today

Undergraduate testifies about the financial burdens facing student teachers | CU Boulder Today

Boulder sophomore Lauren Levey testified before the Colorado House Education Committee on Jan. 26 and spoke in personal terms about the financial challenges she faced as an aspiring teacher in Colorado.

Lauren Levey testifies before the Colorado House Education Committee about the financial burdens facing student teachers.

Levey, who is pursuing a degree in elementary education with a minor in leadership studies, was a witness at a hearing on House Bill 23-1001. The bill is a follow-up to last year’s HB 22-1220, which established a scholarship program “to reduce the financial barriers to participating in the required clinical practice as a student educator.” To date, the program has awarded more than $450,000 in grants, including to student teachers working to gain experience in real-world classrooms. At CU Boulder, 42 students received grants in the fall of 2022, using the funding to pay for tuition and living expenses.

HB 23-1001 would expand the number of Colorado students eligible for these funds. Levey, an undergraduate student ambassador with the CU Boulder Student Government (CUSG), urged lawmakers to pass the bill. The Education Committee voted unanimously to refer the bill to the full House.

“Teaching is much more than just a transfer of information from teacher to student,” she said at the hearing. “It is based on relationship building and development in and outside the classroom. And it requires time and commitment from the teachers. Placing a financial burden on teachers before they even have their license only reinforces the negative effects teachers are experiencing today.”

Levey explained that she dreams of getting her master’s degree in education and becoming a kindergarten teacher. But she’s also anxious about how much that career path will cost. She currently works three jobs to save money for her educational expenses.

The CUSG supports HB 23-1001 as part of its legislative agenda.

Several witnesses at the hearing pointed out that Colorado, like many other states, faces a severe teacher shortage. In a 2022 survey conducted by CU Boulder and its partners, nearly 82% of teacher licensure students at the university reported being concerned about their financial situation.

“We are proud of Lauren and students who are speaking out about the financial challenges they face in becoming teachers and advocating for change,” said Katherine Schultz, dean of the School of Education at CU Boulder.

“Supported by research conducted by our faculty and doctoral students, we look forward to working closely with our university colleagues and state leaders to put financial measures in place that begin to make the student teaching year affordable for all students. We look forward to seeing the difference this measure will make in bringing new teachers into Colorado classrooms in a way that is affordable and respects their dignity.”

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