My name is Cathy Moak, a constituent from Huntsville, Texas. I am a Region 6 service center employee, but I do not write you in that capacity. I am concerned that our teachers and administrators are being unjustly vilified regarding HB 462. Legitimate concerns about Common Core in Texas notwithstanding, teachers are finding the fear of Common Core prohibitive when finding resources for their classroom. After careful analysis, I have found that approximately 68% of the Common Core standards are correlated with the TEKS. With this in consideration, it is no wonder that many of the resources they would choose to use in their classroom would be considered "aligned" with Common Core. I contend that these teachers have every intention of meeting the TEKS and not teaching the Common Core standards. However, since 44 states have adopted the CCSS, the materials available to our teachers are commonly stamped "aligned with Common Core."
In an effort to give our teachers the freedom to teach the TEKS without fear of condemnation, I ask that you please consider petitioning the Attorney General for an opinion on this matter.
Here is the response from the Chairwoman:
Thank you for contacting me about this issue. It makes sense that publishers do write their materials to be aligned with the CCSS since 46 states use those standards. I have seen worksheets that our students are using that say Common Core across the top.
Has there been a specific situation that you know of where a teacher has been condemned or feels threatened due to the use of CCSS materials in their classroom?
I am sending your concerns to the TEA attorney. I will let you know when I hear back from him. He can help interpret the bill to see if there are any legal repercussions for using CCSS instructional materials in Texas.
Thank you for response. I am attaching a post I saw on Facebook [removed to protect the innocent] that targets teachers regarding this issue. I have also received messages from teachers that claim they have experienced condemnation, but they do not give specifics. I am confident that I can find some specific examples if the teachers are offered confidentiality/anonymity.
Thank you again!
Here is the Chairwoman's follow up email:
Cathy,On behalf of educators throughout Texas, I would like to thank Barbara Cargill and TEA for putting Common Sense ahead of the Common Core. You have my vote!
I heard from the TEA attorney, David Anderson.
He says there is no problem legally with this issue. He says:
"TEA has consistently told districts that they are free to use whatever materials they wish, but must cover the TEKS. The only provision in HB462 that applies to districts is this: A school district may not use common core state standards to comply with the requirement to provide instruction in the essential knowledge and skills at appropriate grade levels under Subsection (c).
He adds, "a district cannot teach common core curriculum as a substitute for the TEKS, but there has never been a prohibition against teaching anything in addition to the TEKS. That is actually encouraged in TEC28.002(g): "Each district is encouraged to exceed the minimum requirements of law and [SBOE] rule".
David also told me that using CC materials is fine under state law as long as the TEKS are being covered. He also explained that a district can ban the use of CC materials but that's up to them locally. As long as the TEKS are taught and as long as instructional materials covering the TEKS are used, there is no legal problem.
He does not think that an AG opinion is necessary because this issue is very clear in statute. Plus the agency is very clear in communicating with districts about this. If the legislation was unclear, it would be something to consider but I agree with David that the language is clear.
Thank you again for bringing this to my attention. It was good to learn about it in more detail, especially where the law is concerned.
Now how to deal with complaints is another matter but at least you have this information for back up.
Note: I do not advocate the use of Common Core State Standards in Texas, I like the TEKS just the way they are.