The most recent member appointed to the Board of Regents by Rick Perry maintains a business with an inappropriate and serious conflict of interest for the College of Education at Texas State.
Vernon Reaser III, the appointee, is the president of Texas Teachers Alternative Certification. The business provides teacher certification training for approximately $4,195. College seniors in their final semester and those who have a four-year degree and a 2.5 GPA are eligible to enroll in the program. The certification training can be done via the Web or through a blend of in-person and online instruction.
Texas State is historically known for providing top-quality teaching degrees. Reaser’s teacher certification business is in direct competition with the university’s College of Education goals. In addition, Texas State’s official name used to include the phrases “Normal College” and “Teachers College” from 1918 through 1959 to denote the university’s mission toward education. The College of Education still holds a strong presence in the overall spectrum of the university’s operations today. Therefore, it is unfair for Reaser to make decisions about the university’s education department and curriculum when his business profit interests may interfere.
Texas law states Board of Regents members “may not have a direct or indirect interest including financial” in a company “that is in substantial conflict” of the entity they represent.
Students will have to choose a path toward certification when seeking to enter the teaching profession. It is plausible some of those people will consider both Texas State’s College of Education and Reaser’s program when making that decision. In essence, Reaser has no real incentive to make decisions that may cause students to flock to Texas State’s education program.
The Texas Teachers Alternative Certification’s main selling point is low cost and accessibility. Texas State is offering more courses online or by correspondence as it grows and evolves. Reaser can make the argument Texas State and the business are not in direct competition right now, but they could be before his term is up in 2019.
A spokesman for Perry said all applicants are vetted for conflicts before they are appointed, according to a Feb. 28 University Star article. It seems as though the governor’s office forgot to glance at Reaser’s resume. The teaching certification business was likely an easy detail for Perry to overlook, considering Reaser donated $92,500 to the governor’s campaign.
Reaser should be open to the public about the potential interaction between his business and the new appointment as a regent. However, instead of being transparent to The University Star, Reaser designated Jarod Love, who identified himself as a “public policy consultant,” to answer questions on his behalf, according to the same article.
“Reaser will always conduct himself to the highest ethical standard,” Love said in the article.
Texas legislators will make the ultimate decision whether to confirm or deny Perry’s appointment, and these officials need to make the right choice by keeping Reaser from attaining a regent position.
Texas State is incredibly vulnerable with tight budgets, space and resources. The regents need to be able to make fair and accurate decisions with the university’s best interests at heart, without regard to personal agenda. Reaser’s teaching certification business makes him unable to be objective toward Texas State’s College of Education interests.