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Texas Education Schools May Lose Accreditation

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Eighteen teacher-training programs in Texas are at risk of losing their national accreditation because of restrictions placed on them by state legislative and regulatory bodies.

In a unanimous vote on May 12, the executive board of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education decided that "compelling reasons" exist for examining the status of the Texas programs.

The board's action was in response to a complaint filed against 26 Texas institutions by Hendrik D. Gideonse, professor of education and policy science at the University of Cincinnati. (See Education Week, March 15, 1989.)

In his complaint, Mr. Gideonse charged that the programs were prevented from exercising "self-governance" because of a Texas law that bars them from requiring students to take more than 18 hours of professional education at the undergraduate level in order to be certified.

Such autonomy is required under ncate accreditation standards.

Mr. Gideonse's action represents the first time that ncate's complaint process has been used against a group of institutions affected by state policies beyond their control.

Ncate certifies schools, colleges, and departments of education nationwide.

In making its decision, the ncate board decided to limit the complaint to public institutions only. It will not pursue Mr. Gideonse's complaint against eight private higher-education programs in the state.

The decision cited the combined impact of the 1986 law and subsequent regulations issued by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which oversees the state's public colleges and universities.

Rules handed down by the coordinating board have gone well beyond the legislature's mandates, according to teacher educators.

In most instances, the new rules prevent public teacher-training programs from offering graduate-level professional education beyond the 18-hour limit.

Even institutions that gain permission to offer graduate programs must continue to offer a parallel, undergraduate track that permits students to become certified in the minimal amount of time.

According to Richard C. Kunkel, executive director of ncate, it is the "joint restrictive effect" of the law and the regulations that sets Texas' policies apart from those of other states that have attempted to impose some limits on the amount of teachers' professional training.

Eugene Eubanks, a member of the ncate board, said the panel's decision to pursue the complaint represented the "first time the profession, acting through its accrediting body, has made such a strong statement against intrusion in professional matters."

The complaint will be forwarded to ncate's unit-accreditation board, which will meet in September to determine the next steps in the complaint procedure.

The 18 institutions affected are: East Texas State University, Lamar University, Midwestern State University, North Texas State University, Prairie View A&M University, Sam Houston State University, Southwest Texas State University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Tarleton State University, Texas A&M University at College Station, Texas A&M University at Kingsville, Texas Southern University, Texas Tech University, the University of Houston, the University of Houston at Clear Lake City, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas at El Paso, and West Texas State University.


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