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Texas Superintendent Certification Might Change, Education Lobbyists React

The Texas State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) suggested rule changes last week that would alter the criteria for public school superintendent certification. The proposal drew the ire of a lone education lobbyist.

One proposed option meant superintendent candidates must have at least three years managerial experience within a school district to seek superintendent certification. In another option, a candidate would not need any classroom experience in a school at all.

Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann railed against the proposal at the August 7 meeting. She ripped the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE), the largest teacher’s “association” in the United States.

Presently, a candidate must have a Master’s degree, a principal certification, and have completed and passed a preparation program in order to become a superintendent.

State Board of Education (SBOE) member Marty Rowley told Breitbart Texas that the journey for superintendent certification typically includes time as a classroom teacher, but it could be that local school experience might come in some other educational administrative position, including a principal’s position.

Agenda Item 11 in from last week’s SBEC meeting explains that the proposed amendment to the Texas Administration Code (TAC), Title 19, 242.20 would “broaden the type of educational experience required of superintendent candidates to include public education managerial experience.”

It states that current rules limit the required experience a candidate must have to pursue a superintendent slot through principal certification. The SBEC says it wants to be able to expand the candidate pool to include “those who had not necessarily been teachers or principals,” even though they would have three years managerial experience in public school districts.

In 19 TAC 242.24, it would require a second year mentorship for a first-time Texas superintendent who doesn’t have a principal certificate. The candidate must complete this assignment within the first 30 months of employment.

At the SBEC meeting, Kuhlmann argued, “Every superintendent needs a strong understanding of how education works, the needs of every student, and how the administrative influence can change educational outcomes.”

While Rowley told Breitbart Texas he believed that “some local school experience is essential to serving as a superintendent,” Kuhlmann insisted that first-hand classroom experience was critical. She called the proposed credentials watered down and frowned upon the proposal’s managerial experience “in the business world” as a substitute for principal and teaching experience.”

Kuhlmann told Fox 34 that the SBEC took away the requirement to have a Master’s degree and insisted this signalized a corporate route that would be a big mistake.

“While managerial experience and great business experience is certainly crucial and a good part of what it takes to be a superintendent that isn’t all it takes,” she added.

To the NBC affiliate in Lubbock, KCBD-13, Kuhlman called those looking to make this change as “more about numbers and things like that than you are about what students really need in the classroom and don’t really have a perspective on what they need in the classroom in the first place.”

However, Kuhlmann’s assertions may or may not pan out. Even Rowley has yet to see the SBEC suggested criteria.

“Apparently, SBEC made a preliminary decision regarding requirements for superintendents in Texas but we (the SBOE) have not had the opportunity to even look at the issue,” noted Rowley.

He explained the process. The SBEC is an appointed body. “They have their own rulemaking authority without input by the SBOE,” he said.

However, once the SBEC issues a rule, said Rowley, “that rule is then reviewed by the State Board of Education, specifically by the Committee on School Initiatives which is the committee that I chair.”

The SBOE will have the option to either take no action on an SBEC rule item or to reject it, TEA spokeswoman Lauren Callahan told Breitbart Texas.

The TEA held a stakeholders meeting to discuss these issues in March and a second meeting with business leaders in June. The groups determined that the rules in 19 TAC Chapter 242 “need to be revised and updated to allow for a broader pathway to superintendent certification.”

TEA did not see any fiscal downsides to this in the documentation, only “economic benefit to state government (education service centers and public universities)” between fiscal years 2016-20.

Rowley emphasized, “Presumably, we will have a chance to review the rule at our September meeting, but the issue has not even been raised to my knowledge, at our level.”

Proposal unseen, Rowley said, “Right now, I would be hesitant to agree with eliminating all requirements to having served in a local school district role before serving as the head of a local school district.”

The TEA advised that public comment period for the proposal begins September 4 and runs through October 5. SBEC will meet and consider final action on this rule on October 16, and then the rule will be subject to SBOE review at SBOE’s November meeting.

Rowley intends to review the details of the SBEC rule if and when it comes to the SBOE for review.

Breitbart Texas will continue to follow these education-related developments.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.

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