TEA: Some school districts' innovation plans don't require teacher certification
According to data collected by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), there are more than 600 school districts with innovation plans that don’t require teacher certification.
In 2015, a law was passed that granted public schools exemptions from requirements like teacher certification, school start dates and class sizes.
Deputy Chief Jeff Hembree for the South Texas Independent School District says the district implemented the plan at the beginning of the school year for flexibility in certain areas of state law.
South Texas ISD has one uncertified teacher who is licensed through the state for pharmacy technician.
"So not only is that person licensed through the state for pharmacy technician, but they also had to go through our process that they can actually be in a classroom,” said Hembree. “And we provide them support in helping them make that transition from being out in the profession.”
Organizations like the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in McAllen find the exemptions unfair to certified teachers.
"Investment in their future and that basically is taken away from them,” said Imeera Mohammed, Organizer for the AFT in McAllen. “They invested so that they can become a teacher and now they're saying you wasted your investment."
There have been concerns raised about uncertified teachers teaching core subjects like math, science and language arts, but Hembree said that the TEA makes sure they are abiding by the law.
”They have electronic records of every person that's teaching in the State of Texas, so the education agency can see what teachers have what certificate and that gets reported every year,” said Hembree.