Certification Board Still Off Track With Ethics Rules

Not much has changed since Texas AFT testified against an August draft revision of the Educators’ Code of Ethics before the State Board for Educator Certification. The SBEC staff tomorrow will bring a slightly tweaked version back to the board for adoption. Texas AFT will be there again to say this proposal will not “clarify and better address” issues of ethical conduct for professional educators–the ostensible goal of the revision. Rather, it would serve mainly to expand the prosecutorial power of SBEC’s staff, while providing professional educators with inadequate guidance regarding what is expected of them in their professional role.

SBEC’s adoption of a proposed change in the ethics rules for educators is not the last word. The elected State Board of Education has the power to review and reject rule changes proposed by SBEC, which is made up mostly of gubernatorial appointees. In this instance, if SBEC passes the ethics changes in their current form, SBOE members will need to exercise their review power well.

Beyond the immediate issue of the ethics rules, this episode illustrates a larger problem with SBEC. It was established by the legislature in 1995 to “recognize public school educators as professionals and to grant educators the authority to govern the standards of their profession.” But in practice the SBEC modus operandi generally has been to impose rules from on high while discounting the considered views of front-line educators and their representatives. That decision-making process does not meet any reasonable definition of professional self-governance.