Last week, the Senate Education Committee passed SB 2206 by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, a bill establishing reciprocity for teachers certified in math and science by another state. Brooke Terry, the Foundation’s education policy analyst, testified in favor of the bill. The committee made a wise choice in light of the current shortage of qualified teachers in the fields of math and science, especially at the secondary level. For example, 17% of high school math teachers are teaching outside their field of expertise. The case with science is worse with 34% of science teachers (roughly 3,200) lacking a science certification. SB 2206 addresses this problem.

Clearly, there shouldn’t be roadblocks for certified teachers from out-of-state quickly transitioning into schools that need them immediately. Lisa Gardner, who testified before the committee, was already certified in New Jersey when she moved with her husband to Texas in June. Because her Texas teacher’s license was not processed and approved until August 24, she missed the hiring cycle for the current school year. After serving as a long-term sub for a school in Round Rock for seven months, that same school finally hired her full-time on March 3.

The House companion, HB 4152 by Rep. Patrick Rose, is scheduled for floor debate tomorrow. Hopefully the Texas Legislature will follow through and remove this barrier so that qualified teachers who are ready to step in can provide quality instruction for Texas students.

– Gresham Kay