COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – As students across Colorado head back to the classroom, the Sachs Foundation and Colorado College are reminding teachers about their joint program that hopes to encourage more students of color to consider a career in education.
The program gives participating teachers $10,000 a year for the first three years of their career to supplement their income and encourage them to teach in the state.
According to the state, 1.5% of teachers in Colorado identify as Black.
“The Sachs Foundation has been around for 90 years supporting the education of Black students in Colorado and one of the things that we have been talking about as a board for several years is the issue of the lack of Black teachers in Colorado classrooms,” said Sachs Foundation President Ben Ralston.
Ralston said recruiting and retaining Black teachers is beneficial for everyone.
“There’s research out there that shows that all students benefit from a diverse teaching corps. Black students in particular have lower dropout rates, higher test scores, higher college attendance, all from having just one or two Black teachers in their lifetime,” Ralston said.
Ralston said the program will also give participants a classroom budget and provide professional development opportunities.
“Seeing how much a program like this and how much education can benefit the minds and lives of students makes me want to do it so much more,” said Jordan Bates, the Sachs Foundation Scholar at Colorado College.
Bates said his future goals include becoming an educator and eventually starting his own school.
“I think a program like this is needed but I think it just speaks to a larger systemic issue with education in America,” Bates said. “Our teachers are not valued as much as they should be. There are other countries in the world where teachers are paid similar salaries to doctors and lawyers and that’s because they’re valued at that same level.”
Bates said as he pursues his career in education, he draws inspiration from his mother.
“My mom has been working in schools since I was in 6th grade,” Bates said. “I think having someone like that in my life, especially given that I didn't have a teacher of color until my last year in high school ... was truly a big inspiration for me.”
Bates said he plans to take advantage of every opportunity given to him when it comes to his career in education and looks forward to continuing to work with the Sachs Foundation.