Texas Education Agency
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The logo of the TEA
The Texas Education Agency (TEA, each letter pronounced separately) is a branch of the state government of Texas in the United States responsible for public education. The agency is headquartered in the William B. Travis State Office Building in Downtown Austin.
Prior to the late 1940s, Texas had many "dormant" school districts which did not operate schools, but spent money to send children to schools operated by other districts. In the late 1940s state lawmakers passed a bill abolishing those districts, prompting a wave of mass school district consolidation.
TEA is responsible for the oversight of public primary and secondary education in the state of Texas, involving both the over 1,000 individual school districts in the state as well as charter schools. However, it does not have any jurisdiction over private or parochial schools (whether or not accredited) nor over home schools.
Although school districts are independent governmental entities, TEA has the authority to oversee a district's operations (either involving an individual school or the entire district) if serious issues arise (such as poor standardized test performance, financial distress, or reported mismanagement). This can be in the form of requiring the district to submit corrective action plans and regular status reports, assigning monitors to oversee operations (including the authority to assign a management board, which essentially replaces and performs the duties of the elected school board), and in extreme cases closure of a school campus or even the entire school district.
The University Interscholastic League (UIL), which oversees academic and athletic interscholastic competition in Texas public schools, is a separate entity not under TEA oversight.
In addition to primary and secondary education, TEA has oversight duties with respect to driver's education courses (initial permits) and defensive driving courses (used to have a ticket dismissed and/or for lower insurance premiums).
|Wikinews has related news: Science curriculum director resigns from Texas Education Agency|
On November 7, 2007, Christine Comer resigned as the director of the science curriculum after more than nine years. Comer said that her resignation was a result of pressure from officials who claimed that she had given the appearance of criticizing the teaching of intelligent design.
In 2010, a group of historians, including Jean A. Stuntz of West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, signed a petition to oppose the revisions in the social studies curricula approved by the state Board, changes which require the inclusion of conservative topics in public school instruction. For instance, Jefferson's name must be restored to a list of Enlightenment thinkers. There must be emphasis on the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in regard to property rights. Students must be taught that new documents, the Venona project, verify U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy's suspicions of communist infiltration of the U.S. government during the post-World War II era. Stuntz told the Amarillo Globe-News that the SBOE is "micromanaging. They don't know what they're doing."
In October 2012, The Revisionaries, a documentary film about the re-election of the chairman of the Texas Board of Education Don McLeroy and the curriculum controversy was released. In late January 2013, PBS's Independent Lens aired an abridged version the film.
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio said that the government should "take a look" at the structure of the Board and consider a nonpartisan or appointed board if the elected members are "not getting their job done and they're not pleasing the Legislature or the citizens, then we ought to take a thorough look at what they are doing." In 2010, it was said to be "drafting its own version of American history", including altering school textbooks to remove what it said was a "left leaning bias" and making changes that are said to have "religious and racial overtones".
For example, the proposed curriculum would downplay Thomas Jefferson's emphasis on the separation of church and state (outlined in his Letter to Danbury Baptists), and would include a greater emphasis on the importance of religion to the founding fathers. Other changes include downplaying Abraham Lincoln's role in the civil war and putting more emphasis on the Confederate leader Jefferson Davis, questioning the African American Civil Rights Movement in addition to downplaying Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy, removing such instances and points of history such as downplaying slavery, putting more emphasis on the states rights cause during the Civil War. Critics of the proposed changes believe that such a focus on the religious elements of the founding period could cause teachers to omit lessons on history more pertinent to national standards. Proponents of the new changes argue that the religious elements are often downplayed to the point of obscurity due to the left-leaning nature of public education.
State Board of Education
TEA is overseen by a 15-member State Board of Education, elected from single-member districts for four years. TEA is managed by a Commissioner of Education, who is appointed by the Governor of Texas. The current Commissioner is Michael L. Williams, a former member and chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas, who was appointed by Governor Rick Perry on August 27, 2012. The board devises policies and sets academic standards for Texas public schools as well as oversees the $17.5 billion Permanent School Fund and selects textbooks for Texas' 4.7 million schoolchildren.
Since 2011, the board can still recommend textbooks, but public school districts can order their own books and materials even if their selections are not on the state-approved list. So far, most districts have continued to follow the state-endorsed textbooks, but that trend is expected to change in the next two years as the districts become more cognizant of their available options. Thomas Ratliff, a Moderate Republican and the son of former Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, in 2010 unseated the Bryan dentist Don McLeroy, a former education board chairman who was the leader of the conservative bloc. Ratliff said in 2013 that the board is "far different" in political complexion that it was in 2010. Though the Republicans hold eleven of the fifteen seats, social conservatives are no longer in the majority.
|District||Name||Party||Committee||First elected||Seat up|
|2||Ruben Cortez, Jr.||Dem||School Initiatives||2012||2014|
|4||Lawrence A. Allen Jr.||Dem||School Finance/Permanent School Fund, Vice Chair||2004||2014|
|5||Ken Mercer||Rep||School Finance/Permanent School Fund||2006||2016|
|6||Donna Bahorich||Rep||School Initiatives, Chair||2012||2016|
|7||David Bradley||Rep||School Finance/Permanent School Fund||1996||2014|
|8||Barbara Cargill, Chair||Rep||School Initiatives||2004||2016|
|9||Thomas Ratliff, Vice Chair||Rep||School Finance/Permanent School Fund||2010||2016|
|10||Tom Maynard||Rep||Instruction, Chair||2012||2016|
|11||Patricia Hardy||Rep||School Finance/Permanent School Fund, Chair||2002||2014|
|12||Geraldine Miller||Rep||Instruction||2012 (1984-2010)||2014|
|13||Mavis Knight, Secretary||Dem||School Initiatives||2002||2014|
|14||Sue Melton-Malone||Rep||Instruction, Vice Chair||2012||2016|
|15||Marty Rowley||Rep||School Initiatives, Vice Chair||2012||2016|
In order to serve the large number of individual school districts and charter schools in Texas, TEA is divided into 20 regions, each containing an Educational Service Center (ESC, sometimes called Regional Service Center or RSC).
School and District Accountability
Education Performance Rating
TEA rates schools and districts using four criteria. The criteria are the same for schools and districts. According to the Texas Education Agency, the number of state schools and districts receiving the top ratings of "exemplary" and "recognized" increased from 2,213 in 2005 to 3,380 in 2006.
Gold Performance Acknowledgements
In addition to the state ranking, districts and schools can be awarded additional commendations (referred to as Gold Performance Acknowledgements) for other noteworthy accomplishments not included in the ranking system.
- "Welcome to the Texas Education Agency." Texas Education Agency. Accessed August 30, 2008.
- "Week of April 16 - 20, 2001." Railroad Commission of Texas. Accessed August 30, 2008.
- Cervantes, Bobby. "Chopping block: school district consolidation." San Antonio Express-News. February 22, 2011. Retrieved on May 9, 2011.
- "Evolution Debate Led to Ouster, Official Says". New York Times. November 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
- "State science curriculum director resigns". Austin American-Statesman. November 29, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
- "Texas needs to get it right". National Center for Science Education. March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
- "Brenda Bernet, "Rewriting the history books: Educators reflect on state's curriculum changes," May 18, 2010". Amarillo Globe-News. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
- "Straus: Look at changing state school board elections--maybe more". Star-Telegram. March 27, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
- Halkett, Kimberly. Texas looks to rewrite history. Al Jazeera. 9 April 2010.
- District map (PDF)
- "SBOE Officers, Committees, and Members". Texas Education Agency. Retrieved 2011-06-28.
- "Commissioner of Education". Texas Education Agency. 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-02.
- Smith, Morgan. Michael Williams to Head Texas Education Agency, Texas Tribune, August 27, 2012.
- "End poor guidance of Texas education". Austin American-Statesman. April 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- Will Weissert, "Law weakens ed board", Laredo Morning Times, September 16, 2013, p. 6A
- "Schools improve across the state". The Daily Texan. 3 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-03.[dead link]