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Texas Education Agency



The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is a branch of the state government of Texas in the United States responsible for public education. The agency is headquartered in the William B. Travis State Office Building in Downtown Austin. 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.

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.

TEA is responsible for the oversight of public primary and secondary education in the state of Texas, involving both the over 1,000 individual school districts in the state as well as 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 reported 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.

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.

In 2010, a group of historians, including Jean A. Stuntz of West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, signed a petition to oppose the revisions in the social studies curricula approved by the state Board, changes which require the inclusion of conservative topics in public school instruction. For instance, Jefferson's name must be restored to a list of Enlightenment thinkers. There must be emphasis on the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in regard to property rights. Students must be taught that new documents, the Venona project, verify U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy's suspicions of communist infiltration of the U.S. government during the post-World War II era. Stuntz told the Amarillo Globe-News that the SBOE is "micromanaging. They don't know what they're doing.

For example, the proposed curriculum would downplay Thomas Jefferson's emphasis on the separation of church and state (outlined in his Letter to Danbury Baptists), and would include a greater emphasis on the importance of religion to the founding fathers. Other changes include downplaying Abraham Lincoln's role in the civil war and putting more emphasis on the Confederate leader Jefferson Davis, questioning the Civil Rights Movement in addition to downplaying Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy, removing such instances and points of history such as downplaying slavery, putting more emphasis on the states rights cause during the Civil War. Critics of the proposed changes believe that such a focus on the religious elements of the founding period could cause teachers to omit lessons on history more pertinent to national standards.

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. 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. Though the Republicans hold eleven of the fifteen seats, social conservatives are no longer in the majority.

TEA rates schools and districts using four criteria. The criteria are the same for schools and districts. According to the Texas Education Agency, 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.






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