The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is the branch of the government of Texas responsible for public education in Texas in the United States.[1] The agency is headquartered in the William B. Travis State Office Building in downtown Austin.[1][2] Mike Morath, formerly a member of the Dallas Independent School District's board of trustees, was appointed commissioner of education by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 14, 2015, and began serving on Jan. 4, 2016.[3]

Texas Education Agency
The Texas Education Agency logo

The main offices of the Texas Education Agency are located in the William B. Travis State Office Building in Downtown Austin.
Agency overview
Headquarters1701 North Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas
Agency executives
  • Mike Morath, Commissioner
  • Penny Schwinn, Deputy Commissioner for Academics
  • Martin Winchester, Deputy Commissioner of Educator Support
  • Kara Belew, Deputy Commissioner of Finance
  • A.J. Crabill, Deputy Commissioner of Governance
  • Megan Aghazadian, Deputy Commissioner of Operations
  • Melody Parrish, Chief Information Officer Edit this at Wikidata

History edit

Prior to the late 1940s, many school districts in Texas 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.[4]

Duties edit

TEA is responsible for the oversight of public primary and secondary education in the state of Texas, involving over 1,000 individual school districts in the state and charter schools. It is also responsible for the safety of students. 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 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).

Curriculum controversies edit

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.[5][6]

In 2009, the board received criticism from more than 50 scientific organizations over an attempt to weaken science standards on evolution.[7]

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.[8] In late January 2013, PBS's Independent Lens aired an abridged version the film.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio, Texas 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."[9] In 2010, it was said to be[by whom?] "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".[10]

Special education controversies edit

A series of reports in 2016 by the Houston Chronicle found that since at least 2004, TEA denied special education services to thousands of students, prompting a federal investigation.[11][12] State education officials set an arbitrary limit of 8.5% for the number of students who could receive special education services. By strictly enforcing district compliance with the benchmark, the rate of students receiving special education in Texas fell to 8.5% in 2015, far below the national average of 13%.[12] School districts implemented a wide range of practices to reduce the number of students, including cutting services for certain children with autism and dyslexia, refusing to conduct eligibility evaluations in other languages, and refusing to accept medical records from other countries.[13][14] Students who are English Language Learners (ELL) also faced a disproportionate impact resulting in a 20% difference in the rate of ELL students getting special education services compared to native speakers.[14] In Houston ISD, the state's largest school district, after the 8.5% goal was met the standard was lowered to 8%. As a result, the district cut hundreds of special education positions, postponed diagnostic evaluations to second grade, and created a list of disqualifying factors that keep students from getting services.[15]

TEA issued a no-bid contract for $4.4 million to SPEDx in 2017 to analyze student records to assist with the overhaul of its special education practices. Advocates raised concerns about the lack of a competitive bidding process and the Georgia-based company's qualifications, and a former TEA special education director filed a federal complaint about TEA violating state procurement processes.[16]

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Education found that "Texas violated federal law by failing to ensure students with disabilities were properly evaluated and provided with an adequate public education."[11] A multi-year strategic plan was released in 2018.[17] In a grant application to the agency, TEA stated that they will not be able to ensure adequate services for special education students until June 2020.[18]

In September 2020, in the midst of several attempts to place Houston ISD under state control,[19] TEA investigators recommended a state-appointed conservator be selected to oversee the district.[20]

Commissioner of education edit

The current commissioner of education is Mike Morath.[21] A former member of the Dallas Independent School District's board of trustees, he was appointed commissioner of education by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 14, 2015.[22]

The commissioner's role is to lead and manage the Texas Education Agency. The commissioner also co-ordinates efforts between state and federal agencies.[21][23]

Commissioners of Education[24]
# Commissioner Took office Left office Governor
1 J. W. Egdar March 1950 June 30, 1974 Allan Shivers (1950–1957)
Price Daniel (1957–1963)
John Connally (1963–1969)
Preston Smith (1963–1973)
Dolph Briscoe (1973/1974)
2 M. L. Brockette July 1, 1974 August 31, 1979 Dolph Briscoe (1974–1979)
Bill Clements (1979)
3 Alton O. Bowen September 1, 1979 May 31, 1981 Bill Clements (1979–1981)
4 Raymon L. Bynum June 1, 1981 October 31, 1984 Bill Clements (1981–1983)
Mark White (1984)
5 William N Kirby Interim November 1, 1984 – April 12, 1985 Mark White (1984–1987)
Bill Clements (1987–1991)
Ann Richards (Jan 1991)
November 1, 1984 January 31, 1991
- Tom Anderson
February 1, 1991 June 30, 1991 Ann Richards
6 Lionel Meno July 1, 1991 March 1, 1995 Ann Richards (1991–1995)
George W. Bush (Feb-Mar 1995)
7 Michael Moses March 9, 1995 September 3, 1999 George W. Bush
8 James Nelson September 9, 1999 March 31, 2002 George W. Bush (1999–2000)
Rick Perry (2000–2002)
9 Felipe T. Alanis April 1, 2002 July 31, 2003 Rick Perry
- Robert Scott
(Interim) (1/2)
August 1, 2003 January 12, 2004
10 Shirley J. Neeley January 13, 2004 July 1, 2007
11 Robert Scott
Interim July 2, 2007 – October 15, 2007
July 2, 2007 July 2, 2012
- Todd Webster
July 3, 2012 August 31, 2012
12 Michael Williams September 1, 2012 December 31, 2015 Rick Perry (2012–2015)
Greg Abbott (2015)
13 Mike Morath January 1, 2016 Incumbent Greg Abbott

State Board of Education edit

TEA is overseen by a 15-member State Board of Education (SBOE) elected from single-member districts.[25]

There are no term limits. Terms are four years in length, with one two-year term each decade. Similar to the arrangement of the Texas Senate, SBOE members are divided into two groups based in part on the intervening Census:

  • In elections in years ending in 2 (the election after the Census), all 15 seats are up for election.
  • Once the SBOE meets in session after said election, the members will participate in a drawing to determine their election cycle:
    • One-half will have a 2-4-4 cycle, whereupon the seat would stand for election in two years (the year ending in 4), followed by two four-year cycles (the years ending in 8 and 2).
    • The other half will have a 4-4-2 cycle, whereupon the seat would stand for election in four years (the year ending in 6), followed by another four-year cycle (the year ending in 0) but then the seat would stand for election in only two years (the year ending in 2).

As such, every two years, about half of the SBOE is on the ballot.

The board devises policies and sets academic standards for Texas public schools, and oversees the state Permanent School Fund and selects textbooks to be used in Texas schools.[26]

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.[citation needed] 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. In 2022, the GOP captured an additional seat, bringing their total to 10 of the 15 member board. Many are social conservatives, campaigning against critical race theory and gender identity lessons.[27][1]

SBOE officers, committees, and members
District Name Party Hometown First elected Seat up
1 Melissa Ortega Dem El Paso 2022 2024
2 L.J. Francis Rep Corpus Christi 2022 2026
3 Marisa Perez-Diaz Dem San Antonio 2012 2024
4 Staci Childs Dem Houston 2022 2024
5 Rebecca Bell-Metereau Dem San Marcos 2020 2026
6 Will Hickman Rep Houston 2020 2026
7 Julie Pickren Rep Pearland 2022 2026
8 Audrey Young Rep Trinity 2020 2026
9 Keven Ellis, Chair Rep Lufkin 2016 2026
10 Tom Maynard Rep Florence 2012 2024
11 Patricia Hardy, Secretary Rep Fort Worth 2002 2024
12 Pam Little, Vice Chair Rep Fairview 2018 2024
13 Aicha Davis Dem Dallas 2018 2026
14 Evelyn Brooks Rep Frisco 2022 2026
15 Aaron Kinsey Rep Midland 2022 2024

Regions edit

Education Service Center Region XIII in Austin

To serve the large number of individual school districts and charter schools in Texas, TEA is divided into 20 regions, each containing an Education Service Center (ESC, sometimes called regional service center or regional education service center).

Under Chapter 8 of the Texas Education Code, ESCs perform the following tasks on behalf of TEA:[28]

  • Assist school districts in improving student performance in each region of the system;
  • Enable school districts to operate more efficiently and economically; and
  • Implement initiatives assigned by the legislature or the commissioner.

The assistance applies to both districts and schools, including charter schools. Notably, the ESCs have no regulatory authority over districts or schools (TEA headquarters reserves this right to itself).

ESCs are not political units, and as such have no taxing authority. They are funded by state and federal funding, as well as by contracts made with individual districts and schools.

School and district accountability edit

Education performance rating edit

TEA rates schools and districts using the same four criteria. According to the TEA, 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.[29] In 2020, all schools were given a "not rated" designator due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gold Performance acknowledgements edit

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.

Budget and enrollment edit

The Texas Education Agency is funded by the people of the State of Texas, at the direction of their elected legislature and with the consent of the Governor of Texas. The agency's budget must be approved on the legislature's biannual schedule. Revenues for the agency come from the state general fund (primarily sales taxes), the federal government, the Permanent School Fund (a sovereign wealth fund created by the state with revenues from public lands), and other sources.

Year Budget, for fiscal year ($) % budget change over prior year Enrollment (for school year ending)[30] Enrollment % change over prior year State funding per pupil
2020 $33,338,021,662*[31]  18% - -
2019 $28,161,490,444[31]  2% - -
2018 $27,698,128,088[31]  6% 5,399,682 0.8  $5,129.59
2017 $26,186,545,591[32]  -4% 5,359,127 1.1  $4,886.35
2016 $27,381,560,474[32]  5% 5,299,728 1.3  $5,166.60
2015 $26,112,248,988[33]  4% 5,232,065 1.6  $4,990.81
2014 $25,136,102,615[33] - 5,151,925 1.5 $4,878.97
2013 - - 5,075,840 1.5 -
2012 - - 4,998,579 1.3 -
2011 - - 4,933,617 1.8 -
2010 - - 4,847,844 2.1 -
2009 - - 4,749,571 1.7 -
2008 - - 4,671,493 1.7 -
2007 - - 4,594,942 1.6 -
2006 - - 4,521,043 2.7 -
2005 - - 4,400,644 1.7 -
2004 - - 4,328,028 1.7 -
2003 - - 4,255,821 2.3 -
2002 - - 4,160,968 2.2 -
2001 - - 4,071,433 1.7 -
2000 - - 4,002,227 1.2 -
1999 - - 3,954,434 1.4 -
1998 - - 3,900,488 1.7 -
1997 - - 3,837,096 1.0 -
1996 - - 3,799,032 1.8 -
1995 - - 3,730,544 1.6 -
1994 - - 3,672,198 3.7 -
1993 - - 3,541,771 2.4 -
1992 - - 3,460,378 2.4 -
1991 - - 3,378,318 1.9 -
1990 - - 3,316,785 1.4 -
1989 - - 3,271,509 1.4 -
1988 - - 3,224,916 - -

* Budget figure is projection; all other years are actual expenditure as reported by TEA

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Welcome to the Texas Education Agency." Texas Education Agency. Accessed December 13, 2015. "Texas Education Agency 1701 N. Congress Avenue Austin, Texas, 78701"
  2. ^ "Week of April 16 – 20, 2001" (Archive). Railroad Commission of Texas. Accessed August 30, 2008. "The daily hearings schedule is also posted in the lobby of the William B. Travis State Office Building, 1701 N. Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas."
  3. ^ "Morath takes office as Texas Commissioner of Education". Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  4. ^ Cervantes, Bobby. "Chopping block: school district consolidation." San Antonio Express-News. February 22, 2011. Retrieved on May 9, 2011.
  5. ^ "Evolution Debate Led to Ouster, Official Says". New York Times. November 30, 2007. Retrieved November 30, 2007.
  6. ^ "State science curriculum director resigns". Austin American-Statesman. November 29, 2007. Archived from the original on December 1, 2007. Retrieved November 30, 2007.
  7. ^ "Texas needs to get it right". National Center for Science Education. March 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2009.
  8. ^ "The Revisionaries". October 26, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
  9. ^ "Straus: Look at changing state school board elections—maybe more". Star-Telegram. March 27, 2009. Archived from the original on April 2, 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2009.
  10. ^ Halkett, Kimberly. Texas looks to rewrite history. Al Jazeera. 9 April 2010.
  11. ^ a b Swaby, Aliyya (January 11, 2018). "Feds say Texas illegally failed to educate students with disabilities". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Denied: How Texas keeps out tens of thousands of children out of special education". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  13. ^ "Denied: Schools push students out of special education to meet state limit". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Denied: Texas schools shut out English Language Learners". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  15. ^ "Denied: Houston schools block disabled kids from special education". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  16. ^ Swaby, Aliyya (December 6, 2017). "Disability rights advocates call for Texas to halt education data mining contract". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  17. ^ Swaby, Aliyya (March 20, 2018). "In new plan, Texas Education Agency vows special education overhaul with limited dollars". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  18. ^ Swaby, Aliyya (March 27, 2019). "Texas is preparing to tell the feds it can't promise a special education fix until June 2020". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  19. ^ Swaby, Aliyya (January 9, 2020). "State judge temporarily blocks Texas from taking over Houston school district". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  20. ^ Carpenter, Jacob (September 30, 2020). "TEA finds major failures in HISD's special ed department, recommends state oversight". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Office of the Commissioner". Texas Education Agency. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  22. ^ Collier, Kiah (December 14, 2015). "Dallas Trustee is Next Education Commissioner". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  23. ^ "Commissioner's Biography". Texas Education Agency. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  24. ^ "TEA Commissioners 1950-Present". Texas Education Agency. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  25. ^ "District map (PDF)" (PDF).
  26. ^ "End poor guidance of Texas education". Austin American-Statesman. April 24, 2009. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved April 24, 2009.
  27. ^ Will Weissert, "Law weakens ed board", Laredo Morning Times, September 16, 2013, p. 6A
  28. ^ "Education Service Centers". October 16, 2023.
  29. ^ "Schools improve across the state". The Daily Texan. August 3, 2006. Archived from the original on February 21, 2007. Retrieved August 3, 2006.
  30. ^ "Enrollment in Texas Public Schools, 2017-18" (PDF). State of Texas, Texas Education Agency. State of Texas. August 2018. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  31. ^ a b c "Texas Education Agency Operating Budget Fiscal Year 2020" (PDF). State of Texas, Texas Education Agency. State of Texas. December 2019. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  32. ^ a b "Texas Education Agency Operating Budget Fiscal Year 2018" (PDF). State of Texas, Texas Education Agency. State of Texas. December 2017. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  33. ^ a b "Texas Education Agency Operating Budget Fiscal Year 2016" (PDF). State of Texas, Texas Education Agency. State of Texas. December 2015. Retrieved December 27, 2019.

External links edit