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Texas panel recommends shutting down board for teacher standards
By Kiah Collier
A panel tasked with periodically reviewing state agencies approved a divisive recommendation on Wednesday to abolish a nearly 20-year-old governor-appointed board that works with the Texas Education Agency to set teacher certification and conduct standards.
The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, made up of 10 state lawmakers and two members of the public, voted 8-2 to recommend that the Legislature eliminate the State Board for Educator Certification and transfer those duties to the state education commissioner. (One member was absent and public member Dawn Buckingham, who serves on the board, recused herself). The Sunset Commission also voted to require Commissioner Michael Williams to create an advisory committee to assist him and “ensure the involvement of public school educators in setting the standards.”
The recommendations, if approved by the Legislature next year, would be the latest in a continuing evolution of the State Board for Educator Certification, which the Legislature first created in 1995 as an independent state agency. The Legislature transferred oversight of the board to the Texas Education Agency in 2005 in response to complaints of inefficiency from teachers, but maintained the board structure, according to a Sunset report.
In its latest review of the Texas Education Agency, Sunset staff concluded there is no need to have a separate board and that eliminating it could save the state about $12,000 a year. The State Board of Education last month also voted to recommend the Legislature do away with the State Board for Educator Certification.
A litany of education stakeholders, including major teacher groups, disagree and have proposed maintaining the board but making some improvements including altering its structure and membership and developing clearer policies for addressing complaints and doing so in a more timely manner.
The Sunset Commission on Wednesday also voted unanimously to recommend consolidating all health and human services programs into a single mega-agency. That, too, would be a continuation of past efforts, noted state Sen. Jane Nelson, chairwoman of the commission.
The Sunset process involves reviewing state agencies every dozen or so years and either recommending reforms or closure to the Legislature. Lawmakers next year may approve the commission’s recommendations or alter them.