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Proposed Texas Bill Would Allow Teachers To Get Certified In Early Childhood Education

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U.S. Department of Education
A Houston-area lawmakes wants Texas to offer teachers a certificate to teach young children.

Texas is one of two states that doesn’t offer educators the option of getting a certification in early childhood education. A Texas legislator wants to change that.

State Rep. Dan Huberty says teachers should receive special training to teach the state’s youngest students. That’s why he’s sponsoring a bill that would let teachers receive an early childhood certificate. The Houston-area Republican addressed his colleagues earlier this week during a House subcommittee hearing on teacher quality.

“I think it’s extremely clear that educating a student in kindergarten and educating a student in sixth grade requires a different skill set from an educator in the classroom perspective,” Huberty said.

The certificate wouldn’t be mandatory – it would train teachers to educate children from pre-kindergarten through the third grade. Huberty said the certification would help teachers balance teaching fundamental academic skills with students’ social and emotional skills.

Some said legislators should wait before adopting Huberty’s bill. But most who appeared before the House subcommittee said they support the measure. That includes Wendy Uptain, a former kindergarten teacher, who’s with Commit, the North Texas education non-profit.

“Our third-grade reading proficiency is at 39 percent, so that tells us that the students that are in our classroom from pre-K to third grade – we’re failing them,” Huberty said. “They’re in our schools and we’re not able to give them the resources that they need.”

Laura Laywell, a teacher in Dallas, recalls struggling to connect with her quietest kindergarten student. Laywell had trouble teaching the student to become a better reader – things like phonics and helping her develop confidence.

“I’m just a bad reader, Miss, were her words during the last words of kindergarten,” Laywell said. “She deserved more and I still feel the weight of being underprepared as her teacher.”

Laywell eventually got early education training – training she says every teacher in Texas needs. 

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.