The legislative process is like a labyrinth with many dead ends and a few pathways forward. It is intended to prevent legislation - good or bad - from becoming law. Right now one of my bills, HB 135, has won the approval of the Public Education Committee but has been stalled in the Calendars Committee, the group which determines which bills will make it to the full House for consideration. I think it's an important bill, and I hope you can help me to get it through the process. HB 135 simply requires practice teaching before becoming a fulltime teacher. This is crucial to improving teacher quality, particularly in low-income schools.
Today a teacher can walk into a classroom in August and be responsible for teaching even if he or she hasn't spent a minute practice teaching. Parents are shocked when I tell them that.
You wouldn't put your kids in a car with a driver who has never practiced driving. The state wouldn't give a drivers license to someone who has read some books and been in a car but never practiced driving. The state shouldn't hand the keys to a classroom to a teacher who has never stood before a group of students and delivered a lesson.
House Bill 135 addresses this problem. It simply requires practice teaching before becoming a fulltime teacher.
Through administrative rules, the state currently requires teacher preparation programs to provide 30 field-based training hours, 15 of which may be provided by video. In other words, the state requires prospective teachers to spend 15 clock hours on a school campus. This legislation would ensure that the 15 hours on campus are spent delivering lesson plans rather than just helping with administrative functions or attending school events. This bill does not add additional hours to the requirement; it simply changes how those hours must be spent on campus.
Why did I introduce this bill?
I introduced this bill because I believe every student deserves a qualified teacher in the classroom, no matter the student's socioeconomic status.
Researchers tell us that practice teaching is one of the key ingredients to developing a good teacher. Just a few months ago a national blue ribbon panel of education experts and critics, including Secretary Duncan, called for revamping teacher programs to place clinical practice at the center of teacher preparation.
This bill requires a teacher to have at least 15 hours of practice teaching before being the teacher of record in a classroom.
Many of our teachers have more training than this before they start. Teachers from traditional university-based certification programs typically perform hundreds of practice teaching hours before being assigned their own classroom. For example, The UT system requires 480 to 675 hours, depending on the program.
But a little more than half of new teachers now come from alternative certification programs. I understand we need to have alternative pathways for individuals to become teachers, but we want to ensure that all alternative certification programs are preparing teachers well by including practice teaching.
The research also tells us that teachers from alternative certification programs, including the ones with no practice teaching, are more likely to end up teaching the kids who need the most help. UT's Dr. Ed Fuller has found that teachers from alternative certification programs are more likely to serve in schools with a high percentage of low-income students. Not only are alternatively certified teachers more likely to teach in high poverty schools, they are more likely to teach students with lower TAKS test scores.
The first step to ensuring that Texas is a great place to raise children is for the Legislature to be able to assure every parent from every neighborhood that their child will have a teacher who has practiced teaching before we hand them the keys to the classroom.
Please join me in supporting this legislation by contacting Chairman Todd Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (512) 463-0672 and respectfully request that House Bill 135 be scheduled for consideration by the House of Representatives.