DENVER – Where have all the teachers gone?
Colorado may be on the verge of an educational crisis as the state struggles with a teacher shortage that is impacting thousands of students.
State lawmakers say Colorado is short some 3,000 educators, and a recent report by the Colorado Department of Education is painting an even bleaker picture.
The total number of individuals completing an educator preparation program at Colorado colleges during the 2015-16 school year declined by 2.2 percent from the previous year.
The total represents a 24 percent decrease from 2010.
There are various reasons as to why the state struggles with attracting and keeping teachers, including Colorado’s high cost of living and the profession’s comparatively low starting salary.
Teachers starting out in Colorado make only around $32,000 on average, while other states have an average starting salary of more than $40,000.
Denver teachers earn a median salary of just over $53,000 a year, and many struggle to find affordable housing.
A report by Trulia finds Denver is the 7th least affordable housing market for teachers in the country.
Lawmakers are looking into legislation that would require the state to look into recruitment and retention of teachers and create a strategic plan to address the shortage.
State education officials say the state's growing teacher shortage affects all Colorado schools, but particularly those in rural areas.