State Board of Education votes down four charter applications—a huge victory over harmful charter expansion

Text says, "Protect Our Public Schools." The word "our" is underlined.

The Board also nixes new teacher certification process

On Friday, the State Board of Education rejected four of five applications for new charter schools recommended for approval by the Texas Education Agency.  The SBOE started hearing testimony for and against the new charter applications on Wednesday and continued the hearing late into the evening.

The applications considered and districts that would be significantly impacted were: the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (Fort Worth ISD), Heritage Classical Academy (Houston and Aldine ISDs), ONE Collegiate Academy (Houston and Aldine ISDs), Patterns Technical (Austin and Del Valle ISDs), and Spelligent San Antonio (Northside, North East, and Edgewood ISDs). Texas AFT presented information regarding the negative impacts to both enrollment and funding and worked to bring in testifiers from these communities to speak against these applications. Ultimately, the Friday vote allowed only one application, the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, to proceed. This was a big win for the fight against harmful charter expansion!

The proposed new licensure exam for teacher certification—edTPA, which would replace the TExES PPR—was opposed by Texas AFT and every other major educator organization in Texas. The SBOE public hearing clearly went against the commissioner of education’s desire for this rule adoption. SBOE members unanimously voted down the new rule. It will now go back to the State Board for Educator Certification, which hopefully will do better by the teacher candidates of Texas and the teacher pipeline. We support rigorous preparation to become a classroom teacher, and we will continue to monitor these activities on behalf of our membership.   

Also this week at the SBOE, McAllen AFT member Jennifer Han, the Texas Association of School Administrators Elementary Teacher of the Year, shared powerful words about the unrealistic expectations placed on teachers (especially since COVID) without effective supports and respectful compensation. Han paid a beautiful tribute to her fallen colleagues in Uvalde and called for additional funding and investment in student mental health.

Secondary Teacher of the Year, Ramon Benevides, shared how much he had learned about his students during the pandemic and how it changed his teaching to focus as much on their emotional and life skills as he does on content. His challenge to the room was trying to raise educator compensation so that great teachers like him can stay in the classroom without having to run side jobs. He also called for more attention to be paid to the diverse cultural landscape of our students’ lived experiences.