CU Boulder sophomore Lauren Levey testified Jan. 26 in front of the Colorado House Education Committee, speaking in personal terms about the financial challenges she’s faced as an aspiring teacher in Colorado.
Levey, who’s pursuing a degree in elementary education with a minor in leadership studies, was a witness at a hearing discussing House Bill 23-1001. The bill is a follow-up to last year’s HB 22-1220, which established a stipend program “to reduce the financial barriers of participating in required clinical practice as a student educator.” To date, the program has distributed more than $450,000 in stipends, including to student teachers working to gain experience in real-world classrooms. At CU Boulder, 42 students received stipends in fall 2022, using the funding to pay for tuition and living expenses.
HB 23-1001 would expand the number of students in Colorado who are eligible for these funds. Levey, an undergraduate student ambassador to 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 a lot more than just a transfer of information from teacher to student,” she said at the hearing. “It's based on relationship building and development in and out of the classroom. And that takes time and commitment from the teachers. Putting financial burden on teachers before they even have their license is only enhancing the negative effects teachers are feeling today.”
Levey explained that she dreams of earning her master’s degree in teaching and of becoming a kindergarten teacher. But she’s also anxious about how much that career path will cost. She currently works three jobs to save up 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, is facing a large shortfall in teachers. In a 2022 survey conducted by CU Boulder and its partners, nearly 82% of teacher licensure students at the university reported they were worried about their financial situation.
“We are proud of Lauren and students who are speaking up about the financial challenges they encounter 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 are pleased to work closely with our university colleagues and state leaders to put into place financial measures that begin to make the student teaching year affordable for all students. We look forward to seeing the difference this measure will make to bring new teachers into Colorado classrooms in a manner that is affordable and respects their dignity.”