TCTA urged the State Board for Educator Certification at its March 2 meeting to refrain from making excessive changes to the Educator Code of Ethics.

Among the proposed revisions proposed by TEA staff was making it a Code of Ethics violation for an educator to fail to comply with any written directive from an administrator. TCTA pointed out in testimony that, not only was the standard overly broad, but in many cases it would involve situations that do not rise to the level of “unethical” behavior, which is what the Code of Ethics governs. TCTA strongly suggested that the appropriate place to make many of the revisions suggested by TEA staff was in the educator disciplinary rules.

In response to TCTA’s and others’ testimony, the board and staff agreed that more thought needed to be given to the proposal and that a stakeholder meeting would be held to further discuss the issues.

Other revisions suggested by staff included:

  • Adding a definition for “under the influence” of alcohol. TCTA suggested and TEA staff accepted language that would further tighten and clarify the definition.
  • Adding the term “recklessly” to an existing standard regarding misappropriation/use of district resources; removing the phrase “for personal gain or advantage” from the standard. TCTA suggested, and TEA staff accepted, changing the word “use” to “misuse”, but TCTA testified about the need to still restore the phrase “for personal gain or advantage” to the standard.
  • Adding “written directives from school administrators” to an existing standard regarding educators complying with state law/rules/board polices. TCTA suggested, and TEA staff accepted, tightening the language by limiting it to only directives from administrators with supervisory authority over an educator. However, TCTA testified that the standard was still too broad, pointing out the untenable position the standard would put an educator in if the directive was illegal.

TCTA will participate in the upcoming stakeholder meeting and continue to work with TEA staff as the proposal moves forward.

TCTA advocates increasing the number of training hours for new workforce training certificate

Other issues taken up by SBEC during the March 2 meeting included discussing possible rules establishing an abbreviated educator preparation program for a new Trade & Industrial Workforce Training certificate, as required by recent legislation. This was the third time the board considered the issue as a discussion item; the last time, TCTA successfully urged the board to direct TEA staff to get more input on the appropriate number of training hours from educator preparation programs that already offer the current Trade & Industrial certificate. The resulting input from those programs was to increase the number of training hours to 250-275. 

At the March 2 meeting, TCTA testified that the proposal for 200 hours of training, when all other certificates require at least 300 hours of training, was insufficient and needed to be increased. TCTA pointed out that eligible candidates for this certificate might only have high school diplomas and would be serving as teacher of record under the certificate. Given the fact that their work experience would have been in a field far removed from that of education, it was even more important that there be a sufficient number of hours devoted to training them in areas like reading instruction, the Code of Ethics, the relevant TEKS, and the Professional Practice and Pedagogy standards. 

TCTA will continue to work with TEA staff on this issue as proposed rules are developed.