Open Memorandum to the State Board for Educator Certification

To:       Bonny L. Cain, Ed D., Board Chair

            Christie Pogue, Board Vice Chair

            Janie Baszile, Board Secretary

            Brad W. Allard

            Sandra Bridges

            Jill Harrison Druesedow

            Ben W. Morris

            Curtis Culwell, Ed D.

            Laurie Bricker

            Judy Robison

            Homer Dean Trevino

            Grant W. Simpson, Ph. D

Fr:        Paul T. Henley, Ph. D

             Teaching and Learning Specialist

            The Texas State Teachers Association


As Senate Bill 174 moves from legislation to fruition, your duties will be adjusted.  You will now have more control, and thus more responsibility, to make meaningful decisions regarding educator preparation programs.  When doing so, please look past overall data and focus quite specifically on what principals are saying about these programs.  What follows is a case in point.  I will just touch on the most salient points.

One of the largest certifying agents in Texas sent an evaluator, who watched a bilingual teacher work with a student in Spanish.  He seemed happy during the lesson, smiling often.  Under content knowledge sections, the teacher was rated at “Exceeds Expectations.”

One problem: the evaluator didn’t actually speak Spanish.  He had no idea what was going on.  He wasn’t even sure what content was taught…or should be taught.

The principal eventually confronted the evaluator, telling him that the next evaluation should be done by a bilingual evaluator.

This very large certification company has no bilingual evaluators.

The principal told the evaluator that the for-profit certifying company was failing their teacher-client.

“No, sir.  We are doing exactly what we contracted to do with Ms. Watkins.”

In other words, this multi-million dollar corporation feels no obligation to ensure that the student was taught anything, just that he looked busy and interested.

If you hold these preparation programs to such miniscule standards as contractual agreements between savvy for-profit preparation programs and well-meaning people, you make teaching effectiveness and student learning meaningless in this system.  Your job is to make sure that whatever gets taught in a situation like that is meaningful.  You do that through SB 174.  You do that through a staff that is given instruction not to put up with that.  You do that by giving enormous weight to the aggregated opinions of those principals that have to live with the educator preparation programs’ shortcomings.

You have finally been given the power tools to make something beautiful.  You have pilot data, and you can use upcoming data right now to begin holding certifying agents accountable. The first thing you need to do, though, is clear out those programs that put money too far ahead of kids.  Don’t worry.  It won’t be hard to figure out.  The principals will tell you.

So listen.

About Paul T. Henley, Ph. D.
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