Texas Education Agency

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Texas Education Agency
Agency overview
JurisdictionFlag of Texas.svg  Texas
Headquarters1701, North Congress Avenue
Agency executives
  • Mike Morath, Commissioner
  • • Penny Schwinn, Deputy Commissioner for Academics
  • • Martin Winchester, Deputy Commissioner of Educator Support
  • • Kara Belew, Deputy Commissioner of Finance
  • A.J. Crabill, Deputy Commissioner of Governance
  • • Megan Aghazadian, Deputy Commissioner of Operations
  • • Melody Parrish, Chief Information Officer
Website http://www.tea.texas.gov/
The main offices of the Texas Education Agency are located in the William B. Travis State Office Building in Downtown Austin TravisStateOfficeBuilding.JPG
The main offices of the Texas Education Agency are located in the William B. Travis State Office Building in Downtown Austin
Education in the United States
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The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is a branch of the state government of Texas in the United States responsible for public education. [1] The agency is headquartered in the William B. Travis State Office Building in Downtown Austin. [1] [2] 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. [3]

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Downtown Austin human settlement in United States of America

Downtown Austin is the central business district of Austin, Texas. Downtown is located on the north bank of the Colorado River. The approximate borders of Downtown include Lamar Boulevard to the west, Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and the University of Texas at Austin to the north, Interstate 35 to the east, and Lady Bird Lake to the south.



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. [4]

A school district is a special-purpose district that operates local public primary and secondary schools in various nations.


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.

The University Interscholastic League (UIL), which oversees academic and athletic interscholastic competition in Texas public schools, is a separate entity not under TEA oversight.

University Interscholastic League organization

The University Interscholastic League (UIL) is an organization that creates rules for and administers almost all athletic, musical, and academic contests for public primary and secondary schools in the American state of Texas. It is the largest organization of its type in the world.

In addition to primary and secondary education, TEA has oversight duties with respect to driver's education courses (initial permits) and defensive driving courses (used to have a ticket dismissed and/or for lower insurance premiums).

Curriculum controversies

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. [5] [6]

Christina Castillo Comer is the former Director of Science in the curriculum division of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Comer spent nine years as the Director of Science until she resigned on November 7, 2007. Comer's resignation has sparked controversy about agency politics and the debate to teach evolution in public schools versus creationism or intelligent design.

Intelligent design Pseudoscientific argument for the existence of God

Intelligent design (ID) is a pseudoscientific argument for the existence of God, presented by its proponents as "an evidence-based scientific theory about life's origins". Proponents claim that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." ID is a form of creationism that lacks empirical support and offers no testable or tenable hypotheses, so it is not science. The leading proponents of ID are associated with the Discovery Institute, a fundamentalist Christian and politically conservative think tank based in the United States.

In 2009, the Board received criticism from more than fifty scientific organizations over an attempt to weaken science standards on evolution. [7]

Evolution Change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations

Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the expressions of genes that are passed on from parent to offspring during reproduction. Different characteristics tend to exist within any given population as a result of mutation, genetic recombination and other sources of genetic variation. Evolution occurs when evolutionary processes such as natural selection and genetic drift act on this variation, resulting in certain characteristics becoming more common or rare within a population. It is this process of evolution that has given rise to biodiversity at every level of biological organisation, including the levels of species, individual organisms and molecules.

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." [8]

Jean A. Stuntz American historian

Jean Allison Stuntz is a professor at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, where she specializes in women's studies and the history of Texas, the Spanish Borderlands, and the American West. She has been teaching at WTAMU since 2001.

West Texas A&M University

West Texas A&M University, also known as WTAMU, WT, and formerly West Texas State, part of the Texas A&M University System, is a public university located in Canyon, Texas, a city of 13,303 about 13 miles south of Amarillo, a city of 190,695. The university is part of the Amarillo metropolitan area with a population of 268,893. West Texas A&M University was established on September 20, 1910, and was originally known as West Texas State Normal College. The university started out as one of the seven state-funded teachers' colleges in Texas.

Canyon, Texas City in Texas, United States

Canyon is a city in, and the county seat of, Randall County, Texas, United States. The population was 13,303 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Amarillo, Texas Metropolitan Statistical Area. Canyon is the home of West Texas A&M University and Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, and the world-famous outdoor musical drama Texas.

In October 2012, The Revisionaries, a documentary film about the re-election of the chairman of the Texas Board of Education Don McLeroy and the curriculum controversy was released. [9] In late January 2013, PBS's Independent Lens aired an abridged version the film.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio said that the government should "take a look" at the structure of the Board and consider a nonpartisan or appointed board if the elected members are "not getting their job done and they're not pleasing the Legislature or the citizens, then we ought to take) a thorough look at what they are doing." [10] In 2010, it was said to be "drafting its own version of American history", including altering school textbooks to remove what it said was a "left leaning bias" and making changes that are said to have "religious and racial overtones". [11]

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.

Commissioner of Education

The current Commissioner of Education is Mike Morath. [12] A former member of the Dallas Independent School District's board of trustees, he was appointed commissioner of education by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 14, 2015. [13]

The commissioner's role is to lead and manage the Texas Education Agency. The Commissioner also co-ordinates efforts between state and federal agencies. [12] [14]

Commissioners of Education [15]
#CommissionerTook officeLeft officeGovernor
1J. W. EgdarMarch 1950June 30, 1974 Allan Shivers (1950–1957)
Price Daniel (1957–1963)
John Connally (1963–1969)
Preston Smith (1963–1973)
Dolph Briscoe (1973/1974)
2M. L. BrocketteJuly 1, 1974August 31, 1979 Dolph Briscoe (1974–1979)
Bill Clements (1979)
3Alton O. BowenSeptember 1, 1979May 31, 1981 Bill Clements (1979–1981)
4Raymon L. BynumJune 1, 1981October 31, 1984 Bill Clements (1981–1983)
Mark White (1984)
5William N KirbyInterim November 1, 1984 – April 12, 1985 Mark White (1984–1987)
Bill Clements (1987–1991)
Ann Richards (Jan 1991)
November 1, 1984January 31, 1991
-Tom Anderson
February 1, 1991June 30, 1991 Ann Richards
6Lionel MenoJuly 1, 1991March 1, 1995 Ann Richards (1991–1995)
George W. Bush (Feb-Mar 1995)
7Michael MosesMarch 9, 1995September 3, 1999 George W. Bush
8James NelsonSeptember 9, 1999March 31, 2002 George W. Bush (1999–2000)
Rick Perry (2000–2002)
9Felipe T. AlanisApril 1, 2002July 31, 2003 Rick Perry
-Robert Scott
(Interim) (1/2)
August 1, 2003January 12, 2004
10Shirley J. NeeleyJanuary 13, 2004July 1, 2007
11Robert Scott
Interim July 2, 2007 – October 15, 2007
July 2, 2007July 2, 2012
-Todd Webster
July 3, 2012August 31, 2012
12 Michael Williams September 1, 2012December 31, 2015 Rick Perry (2012–2015)
Greg Abbott (2015)
13 Mike Morath January 1, 2016Incumbent Greg Abbott

State Board of Education

TEA is overseen by a 15-member State Board of Education, elected from single-member districts [16] for four years. [17]

The board devises policies and sets academic standards for Texas public schools, as well as overseeing the state Permanent School Fund and selecting textbooks to be used in Texas schools. [18]

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. [19]

SBOE Officers, Committees, and Members [17]
DistrictNamePartyFirst electedSeat up
1Georgina C. PérezDem20162020
2Ruben Cortez, Jr., SecretaryDem20122022
3Marisa B. PerezDem20122022
4Lawrence A. Allen, Jr.Dem20042022
5 Ken Mercer Rep20062020
6Donna Bahorich, ChairRep20122020
7Matt RobinsonRep20182022
8Barbara CargillRep20042020
9Keven EllisRep20162020
10Tom MaynardRep20122020
11Patricia HardyRep20022022
12Pam LittleRep20182022
13Aicha DavisDem20182022
14Sue Melton-MaloneRep20122020
15Marty Rowley, Vice ChairRep20122020


Education Service Center Region XIII in Austin Esc13.jpg
Education Service Center Region XIII in Austin

In order to serve the large number of individual school districts and charter schools in Texas, TEA is divided into 20 regions, each containing an Educational Service Center (ESC, sometimes called Regional Service Center or RSC).

School and district accountability

Education performance rating

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. [20]

Gold Performance Acknowledgements

In addition to the state ranking, districts and schools can be awarded additional commendations (referred to as Gold Performance Acknowledgements) for other noteworthy accomplishments not included in the ranking system.

Related Research Articles

Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills

The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) was the fourth Texas state standardized test previously used in grade 3-8 and grade 9-11 to assess students' attainment of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies skills required under Texas education standards. It is developed and scored by Pearson Educational Measurement with close supervision by the Texas Education Agency. Though created before the No Child Left Behind Act was passed, it complied with the law. It replaced the previous test, called the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), in 2002.

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) is an agency of the U.S. state of Texas's government that oversees all public post-secondary education in the state. It is headquartered at 1200 East Anderson Lane in Austin.

The government of Texas operates under the Constitution of Texas and consists of a unitary democratic state government operating under a presidential system that uses the Dillon Rule, as well as governments at the county and municipal levels.

Michael L. Williams American politician

Michael Lawrence Williams is the former Education Commissioner of the U.S. state of Texas, in which capacity he was leader of the Texas Education Agency. Williams was appointed to the position on August 27, 2012, by then Governor Rick Perry. On October 15, 2015, Williams announced that he would step down as Education Commissioner at the end of the year to return to the private sector.

La Marque Independent School District (LMISD) was a public school district based in La Marque, Texas, in the Houston metropolitan area. In addition to much of La Marque, the district served portions of Texas City and Tiki Island. As of July 1, 2016 it consolidated into the Texas City Independent School District.

John Donald "Don" McLeroy is a dentist in Bryan, Texas, and a Republican former member of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). The SBOE establishes policy for the state public school system. Dr. McLeroy, who represented SBOE District 9, served on the board from 1998 until 2011. McLeroy was appointed in 2007 as SBOE chairman by Governor Rick Perry. The term ended in February 2009.

William Roark Ratliff, is a Texas politician who served as a member of the Texas State Senate from 1988 to 2004. Between 2000 and 2003 he served as the 40th Lieutenant Governor of Texas, after previous Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry succeeded to the governorship to replace George W. Bush who resigned to become President of the United States.

Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds is Statewide Policy and Programs Deputy Commissioner, Education Agency, State of Texas. She came to public attention in November 2007 over the controversial firing of Christine Comer.

"Strengths and weaknesses of evolution" is a controversial phrase that has been proposed for public school science curricula. Those proposing the phrase, such as the chairman of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), Don McLeroy, purport that there are weaknesses in the theory of evolution and in the evidence that life has evolved that should be taught for a balanced treatment of the subject of evolution. The scientific community rejects that any substantive weaknesses exist in the scientific theory, or in the data that it explains, and views the examples that have been given in support of the phrasing as being without merit and long refuted.

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS are the state standards for Texas public schools from kindergarten to year 12. They detail the curriculum requirements for every course. State-mandated standardized tests measure acquisition of specific knowledge and skills outlined in this curriculum. It is also used in international schools outside of Texas. The TEKS are taught to students and within the end of the year, they take a standardized test based on the TEKS called the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness.

CSCOPE is a K-12 educational curriculum support system that has been widely adopted in Texas. It was created by the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative (TESCCC).

Darryl Kent Grusendorf is a businessman and investor now residing in Austin, Texas, who served as a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives from District 94 from 1987 to 2007, while he resided in Arlington in Tarrant County. His business interests have included aerospace manufacturing, banking, and real estate.

State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness

The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, commonly referred to as its acronym STAAR, are a series of standardized tests used in Texas public primary and secondary schools to assess a student's achievements and knowledge learned in the grade level. It tests curriculum taught from the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, which in turn is taught by public schools. The test used to be developed by Pearson Education every school year, although the most recent contract gave Educational Testing Service a role in creating some of the tests, under the close supervision of the Texas Education Agency.

<i>The Revisionaries</i> 2012 film

The Revisionaries is a 2012 documentary film about the re-election of Don McLeroy, the former chairman of the Texas Board of Education. The film also details how the Texas Board's decisions on textbook content influence textbooks across the nation and affect the American culture war. The Revisionaries was directed by Scott Thurman and produced by Silver Lining Films, Magic Hour Productions and Naked Edge Films.

District of Columbia State Board of Education government organization in Washington D.C., United States

The District of Columbia State Board of Education (SBOE) is an independent executive branch agency of the Government of the District of Columbia. The SBOE provides advocacy and policy guidance for the District of Columbia Public Schools, and works with the Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools and the District of Columbia State Superintendent of Education. Charter schools are overseen by the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board.

Mary Lou Bruner is an American retired educator and former political candidate. Bruner was a public school teacher and counselor for 36 years before retiring and becoming an activist. She attracted national attention during her 2016 campaign for the Republican nomination for an East Texas seat on the Texas State Board of Education because of her controversial and extreme views on topics including President Barack Obama, the science of evolution, Islam, and homosexuality. She has expressed her belief that Obama was a gay prostitute, that Islam's goal is to conquer the USA, that pre-K programs encourage children into homosexual marriage, and that being a Democrat equates to being a mass-murderer. Bruner, who has been called the "looniest politician in Texas" has been publicly ridiculed for her views. Bruner said in an interview: "I don't know why I'm getting so much attention. I'm just saying what I believe."

Airick Journey Crabill is an American education reform advocate and public speaker on education reform. He currently serves as the Texas Education Agency's Deputy Commissioner for Governance. Prior to this position, Crabill served eight years (2008–2016) on the board of the Kansas City Public Schools, serving as president for a majority of his tenure.

Mike Morath is an American software developer, investor, and educator. He is the current commissioner of education heading the Texas Education Agency. Prior to joining the agency, he served as a trustee for the Dallas Independent School District, where he advocated for school reform and home-rule. Morath began his career in the technology sector, and also founded a successful information systems company, which he later sold.


  1. 1 2 "Welcome to the Texas Education Agency." Texas Education Agency. Accessed December 13, 2015. "Texas Education Agency 1701 N. Congress Avenue Austin, Texas, 78701"
  2. "Week of April 16 – 20, 2001" (Archive). Railroad Commission of Texas. Accessed August 30, 2008. "The daily hearings schedule is also posted in the lobby of the William B. Travis State Office Building, 1701 N. Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas."
  3. "Morath takes office as Texas Commissioner of Education". tea.texas.gov. Retrieved Jan 6, 2019.
  4. Cervantes, Bobby. "Chopping block: school district consolidation." San Antonio Express-News . February 22, 2011. Retrieved on May 9, 2011.
  5. "Evolution Debate Led to Ouster, Official Says". New York Times. November 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
  6. "State science curriculum director resigns". Austin American-Statesman. November 29, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
  7. "Texas needs to get it right". National Center for Science Education. March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
  8. "Brenda Bernet, "Rewriting the history books: Educators reflect on state's curriculum changes," May 18, 2010". Amarillo Globe-News . Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  9. "The Revisionaries". rottentomatoes.com. 26 October 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  10. "Straus: Look at changing state school board elections—maybe more". Star-Telegram. March 27, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
  11. Halkett, Kimberly. Texas looks to rewrite history. Al Jazeera. 9 April 2010.
  12. 1 2 "Office of the Commissioner". Texas Education Agency. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  13. Collier, Kiah (2015-12-14). "Dallas Trustee is Next Education Commissioner". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  14. "Commissioner's Biography". Texas Education Agency. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  15. "TEA Commissioners 1950-Present". Texas Education Agency. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  16. District map (PDF)
  17. 1 2 "SBOE Officers, Committees, and Members". Texas Education Agency. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
  18. "End poor guidance of Texas education". Austin American-Statesman. April 24, 2009. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
  19. Will Weissert, "Law weakens ed board", Laredo Morning Times , September 16, 2013, p. 6A
  20. "Schools improve across the state". The Daily Texan. 3 August 2006. Archived from the original on 21 February 2007. Retrieved 2006-08-03.