Former SBOE Chair for two terms. First elected to the SBOE in 2012. Current term expires Jan. 2021.
*Bahorich is not seeking re-election in 2020.
Responses to the 2016 ATPE Candidate Survey:
1. What role should educators and educator groups play in policy decisions made by the State Board of Education (SBOE)?
Educators and educator groups are VERY important, indeed invaluable, in the work of the SBOE. As State Board of Education Chair, I have made a concerted effort to invite and involve educators in all we do. For standards reviews, I have spoken out widely all over the state to encourage educators to volunteer for our curriculum standards review teams. I've also stressed the need for administration to support this valuable work by educators. The volunteerism for our curriculum standards reviews has skyrocketed for review cycles during my time on the Board because the entire Board has been active in promoting. We have also involved professional educator groups in hosting an online forum for our current ELAR/SLAR standards review to gather the feedback regarding the standards drafts from as many educators as possible. In April, we had 866 educators engaged for the first draft standards review. For other Board work, I have counted on educator groups to spread the word and raise participation for both face to face meetings as well as with the online survey on assessments and accountability for the Next Gen Commission this year. Over 16,000 educators participated in the online survey alone. We have not only talked about it; we have made sure educators have been integral to all SBOE work.
2. Do you believe the number of curriculum standards written into the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) is generally too high, too low, or just about right?
Too high. Last legislative session, the legislature made very clear they are interested in decreasing the amount of required TEKS. The breadth of TEKS is simply too wide. This has also been the feedback received by all Board members in our districts. The Board has responded with scheduling TEKS streamlining for science and social studies over the next two years. The current ELAR/SLAR review is a regular standards review with an additional streamlining focus. The Board again has taken action in this important area.
3. Would you recommend any changes to the process for adopting and revising the TEKS curriculum standards?
I believe that engaging more educators, higher education and the public with our work is important. I'd like to see an online forum as a regular expectation of our standards reviews. The Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) has asked for ways to collaborate with the State Board of Education. We do include some higher education experts on our review panels, if they volunteer for that work. However, having a volunteer all-higher education panel, via the HECB to also provide feedback during our standards reviews with a college readiness perspective, is a perfect way to engage higher education in a larger, more robust way.
4. Do you believe charter schools in Texas have been largely successful? Should their presence be expanded? Why or why not?
I am a supporter of high quality public charter schools. Unfortunately, over the last twenty years of charter authorizing, we have had to learn what to look for in a high quality charter school applicant and have sometimes missed the mark. With the passage of Senate Bill 2 a couple of sessions ago, we have seen a concerted effort from the Education Commissioner in closing down those charters that have not served our students as expected. This is right to do. For me, the enabling of public education choices, including charters, is important for students and parents. Not all children are alike. Not all schools should be alike either. That is why I'm also supportive of the innovative school district law passed in the last session. I hope to see more creativity and innovation in all our public schools. Public education must work harder to be adaptable to meet the varied needs of our students. Public policy makers must work harder to not stifle the ability to innovate.
5. What role, if any, should the SBOE play in approving textbooks and instructional materials?
Our current process is to engage review panels (almost all educators) in reviewing classroom content looking for errors and TEKS coverage through our SBOE textbook review process. This work should continue. With the support of my colleagues, we have now changed our instructional materials submission requirements to include an online public portal available during our textbook reviews. This is a very important change in how the SBOE does our work with textbooks. Not only is the Board's process one of rigorous scrutiny for errors and TEKS coverage, but it is now a very transparent, available process as well. Previously, in order to view materials under consideration, the public had to go to one of the twenty Education Service Centers. Now, everyone has access in a very convenient way.
6. Do you believe our state's curriculum requirements allow students to receive a well-rounded education throughout all grade levels? Would you recommend any changes?
In general, yes. We do have a well-rounded set of requirements. I do believe the over-emphasis on test preparation in the schools has short-circuited the richness actually in our standards for fear of not performing on state assessments. Unfortunately, many schools end up squeezing out the education in the arts, social studies, physical education, science, etc. to add time for math and English to be sure that students perform well for state assessments.
7. Do you believe the SBOE should continue to have the authority to review and potentially veto any rule actions taken by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC)?
Most of the SBEC rules we consider are required rule changes for various reasons. We don't typically get rules passed by SBEC that might possibly elicit the SBOE's veto. BUT, there are some important policy rules, like GPA entry requirements for teacher preparation programs or rules for superintendents and their certification requirements, that warrant the SBOE's extra consideration. There is a difference between an appointed board and an elected board that must be responsible to the people. The SBOE adds a higher bar for rule passage, so should retain the authority to review.
8. If elected, what do you believe your primary role and responsibility as a state board member should be?
The Board serves an absolutely vital role with its constitutional responsibility to oversee the Permanent School Fund, so essential to funding public school instructional materials for all Texas classrooms. The Board can also serve such an important function in highlighting big topics in education that deserve focus. As Chair, I started a series of Roundtables to feature the challenges as well as best practices for education leadership and policymakers on issues such as "Educating the Digital Generation" (held last November) and the upcoming "Educating the Children of Poverty" (in September). Greater engagement with educators, higher education and the public concerning our responsibilities is critical. Considerable effort is required to open up our work to include greater transparency, support and engagement, but I believe what the Board has accomplished already and will continue to move toward is important for the future of Texas public education.
No additional comments
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A NONPARTISAN VOTER EDUCATION PROJECT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF TEXAS PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS