House panel discusses hiring shortage, educator prep in marathon hearings
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Date Posted: 7/27/2022 | Author: Mark Wiggins
The Texas House Committee on Public Education met Monday and Tuesday, July 25-26, 2022, to discuss a range of issues from the teacher hiring shortage to changes in educator preparation. Chairman Harold Dutton (D-Houston) abruptly adjourned the committee’s last meeting on May 24 as members received news of the school shooting in Uvalde. The committee met Monday to resume the previous discussion, which touched on elements contributing to the teacher shortage.
As we shared in this blog post, ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier gave invited testimony as part of the committee’s charge to monitor recent legislation, including 2019’s House Bill (HB) 3. Chevalier shared the results of multiple ATPE member surveys, including the most recent one on teacher attrition, drawing particular attention to the burdens placed on educators by HB 3’s Reading Academies requirement.
The committee also received feedback on the difficulties of complying with accelerated instructional requirements under last session’s HB 4545, for which many educators report being uncompensated. Other topics on Monday’s agenda included learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and chronic absenteeism.
Tuesday’s hearing began with an update from State Board of Education (SBOE) Chairman Keven Ellis (R-Lufkin) on the board’s unanimous decision to veto a decision by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) to adopt edTPA as a teacher certification exam. SBEC sought to replace the current Texas-created Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) exam with the nationally developed edTPA, administered by educational testing company Pearson.
Dr. Ellis and SBOE Member Tom Maynard (R-Florence) defended their board’s veto, noting the criticisms raised by numerous stakeholders including ATPE and emphasizing efforts currently underway to find a more thoughtful way to improve the rigor and accountability of educator preparation programs (EPPs). Ellis noted that the board intends to schedule a joint meeting with SBEC in September for the purpose of further discussing edTPA.
The committee’s Tuesday agenda topics included collaboration between K-12 schools and institutions of higher education to address workforce needs, as well as discussions concerning curriculum and instructional materials and parent empowerment.
On the topic of parent empowerment, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath presented an exhaustive list of the various methods through which parents have the power to access curriculum, review instructional materials, and pursue grievances in the public school system. These rights are guaranteed by law in the public school system, with the exception of charter schools. Private schools are not part of the public school system and are also exempt from laws guaranteeing parental rights.
The committee heard at length from invited witnesses representing charter schools and promoting private school vouchers, both of which ironically require parents and students to surrender the rights they are guaranteed under the public school system. Committee Member James Talarico (D-Round Rock) pointed out the tension between administrative agility and lack of voters' ability to exert public control over charter schools and raised a question about how insulated from democracy certain schools should be.
Committee members and panelists on both days raised concerns over the current political rhetoric and negativity aimed at educators. As ATPE has previously pointed out, this rhetoric is often cited among the reasons educators have decided to leave the profession.
The committee will continue to meet to discuss interim charges assigned by the House speaker. A final committee report containing findings and recommendations for the 2023 legislative session is due by the end of the year.
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