The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) held a board workshop Friday, April 4 to discuss possible recommendations to the 84th Legislature. Primarily, SBEC will again be under sunset review in the 2015 legislative session after a sunset bill failed to pass in 2013. The meeting also included discussion on developments following the 2013 passage of House Bill (HB) 2012, a bill by Rep. Mike Villarreal that, among other things, addressed educator preparation program admission and certification standards.
The Sunset Advisory Commission is a 12-member state commission designed to evaluate Texas agencies and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency where it exists. Heading into the 2013 legislative session, the Sunset Commission concluded that SBEC was inefficient and unnecessary because the board’s work is largely performed by Texas Education Agency (TEA) staff and is also reviewed by the State Board of Education (SBOE). Sunset bills subsequently filed in 2013 called for abolishing SBEC and transferring authority for regulation of the education profession to the Commission of Education. However, ATPE and other teacher groups opposed those bills last year and prevented them from passing, which forced the sunset review of TEA and SBEC to be held over for another legislature. Thus, the future of SBEC will again be debated during the upcoming 2015 session.
The SBEC board’s legislative brainstorming at last week’s workshop was focused on working to ensure their survival through this next sunset review. The Sunset Commission will begin another round of exploration of the board’s functions in May, and SBEC members intend to demonstrate their significance. They will hear from TEA officials at their May 2 meeting on what changes have been made to address some of the concerns stated in the Sunset Commission’s original report. The board members feel SBEC is necessary because it serves as a system of checks and balances on certification issues at TEA, it is made up of professionals with experience and expertise in their fields, and the work will be more costly if done solely by TEA or the commissioner.
Other potential legislation ideas discussed by SBEC included giving the investigations department subpoena power and raising compensation for educators. Because teacher pay is out of the board’s authority and the commissioner already has subpoena power on his legislative agenda for next session, the board focused their discussion of legislative preparations on the sunset bill.
The board also discussed HB 2012 from last session and the efforts TEA is taking to address the portion on educator preparation programs. TEA has engaged educator preparation programs throughout the state and held regional field meetings to seek input and feedback. The staff will present final recommendations to SBEC on May 2. HB 2012 requires educator preparation programs to share certain information with their students, specifies admissions requirements for educator preparation programs, and raises some standards for certification. SBEC has some discretion over raising the certification requirements.
Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for updates on these issues following the May 2 SBEC meeting.