December 17, 2021: Tell Mike Morath that all teachers need higher pay; SBEC updates on teacher training & certification; and Happy Holidays!
Publish Date: December 17, 2021 10:06 am Author: Texas AFT
The Hotline will take a holiday break and will return on Friday, January 7.
On behalf of our entire staff at Texas AFT, I want to wish you a Happy Holiday Break! You’ve worked hard in a challenging time, and you deserve a peaceful breather. Rest assured, though, that we’ll be back refreshed in January working to improve our schools and our profession, as well as getting ready to elect friends of public education in the March primaries.
Zeph Capo Texas AFT President
SBEC hears info on learning loss and the need for higher teacher pay
Board also approves new rules on teacher sanctions
This past Friday, the State Board for Educator Certification met for its quarterly board meeting to receive comments from TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, discuss the proposed implementation of a new teacher certification assessment, implement new rules on teacher sanctions, and consider the approval of a new educator preparation program at the International Leadership Texas (ILTexas) charter network.
Morath told the board that if dramatic declines in reading and math scores resulting from the pandemic are not properly addressed, the reduced scores could be predictive of worse career outcomes. Morath said the “status quo is untenable” and policy changes to address learning loss need to be “bold and aggressive.” He said teachers were the most important piece to improving educational outcomes and stressed to the board the importance of hiring and retaining “high-quality” educators. The education commissioner suggested teacher quality and retention could be handled by increasing training requirements. Morath proposed increasing teacher pay for teachers deemed to be “high quality” based on TEA metrics to tackle these issues, stating, “If you’re making it rain for kids, then we’ll make it rain for you.” That translates into pay tied to standardized test scores.
Texas AFT agrees with Morath that enhanced pay and training are crucial to attracting new, high-quality teachers. But the research shows that tying pay to students’ test scores is ineffective, further emphasizes standardized tests, and stifles critical thinking. What is really needed is a higher base pay for educators that is comparable to jobs requiring similar skills along with the necessary resources for schools and teachers to address students’ needs.
Morath also discussed the edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment), a private teacher training product that could be employed statewide after a recent pilot period. If edTPA is adopted, it will replace the PPR (Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities) exam. The board heard hours of invited testimony on the issue—including a letter signed by university education preparation providers, Texas AFT, and other teacher organizations that opposed the expansion of edTPA—citing independent research showing that edTPA has a negative impact on student achievement. Additionally, edTPA is not fully aligned with the SBEC standards, while the PPR is. edTPA is owned by the private publishing conglomerate Pearson, which has promoted private online schooling and has connections to charter schools. edTPA would also be more costly to teaching candidates. SBEC was divided on implementing edTPA, with several members worried about the rigor and cost. The board will discuss the matter further at its February meeting.
SBEC also amended its rules to implement HB 2519, which passed during the regular legislative session this year and amends the rules regarding sanctions for contract abandonment. SBEC voted to adopt rules that would broaden the scope of mitigating factors that can be considered when deciding the punishment for teachers who abandon their contracts.
Finally, SBEC voted to approve a new educator preparation program to be run by the ILTexas charter-school network. ILTexas stated it desperately needed the training program to recruit new teachers. Speakers who opposed the approval pointed out that ILTexas has very low teacher retention rates. They argued that a school that could not retain its existing teachers should not be responsible for training new teachers. ILTexas has also received failing scores from the TEA at several of its campuses. Despite these factors, the board voted to approve the new training program. For more information, read the letter sent to the board by Texas AFT and other teacher organizations.
New Hampshire AFT sues state officials over ‘divisive concepts’ law that resulted in a bounty on teachers
Texas educators will recognize this narrative: state officials attacking teachers to fuel culture wars. The same extremism has surfaced in New Hampshire, where a recent bounty put on teachers spurred the state teachers union (New Hampshire AFT) to sue state officials over its “divisive concepts” law.
Similar to our recent laws here in Texas (HB 3979 and SB 3), the law adds restrictions on teaching controversial issues on race and sex. However, the New Hampshire law can result in teachers losing their certification.
And after New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed the bill into law in June, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut turned up the heat in November by creating a webpage to make it easy for parents to file complaints against teachers. That, in turn, led a fringe group called Moms For Liberty to put a $500 bounty on the head of any teacher for informers who successfully lodge a complaint about a teacher. Teachers since have been subject to online harassment, obscenities, and vicious attacks as a direct result of the political intimidation.
Moms for Liberty groups have also grown increasingly active in Texas. Standing up against these extremists in New Hampshire will help us fight back in Texas. Send your support to NH AFT today.
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