Bethel University has won its petition against the Tennessee State Board of Education with the final order of the Davidson County Court case being delivered in late June. Bethel University filed the petition against the state board after the board denied approval for Bethel to continue to license teachers – something the school had been doing for decades. The board’s move took place in July 2016 just shortly after Bethel had received word that it had been given continued accreditation from NCATE, the predecessor to what is now known as CAEP (The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation).
“The action by the Tennessee State Board of Education hit us very hard,” said President Walter Butler. “We had a thriving teacher education program. In fact, this program was among our largest.”
Butler said after the board denied approval for Bethel to continue to license teachers that they had to temporarily begin to close the program down.
“We knew we could not offer such a program to students if we could not help them attain licensure as well,” he said. “We had to work with students who were in the program to ensure that they would indeed be in a place to receive licensure when they completed their teacher education program. We lost a great deal of revenue, and we felt like we were letting down a lot of students who had put their educational futures in our hands.”
Butler said he is very pleased with the outcome of the case.
“To know that the court felt like the State Board’s revocation of our ability to license was invalid is gratifying,” he said. “We know that we have a strong teacher education program. We have always received a lot of anecdotal feedback from school systems who praise the kinds of teachers we have educated. And we’ve had a 100 percent pass rate for our students taking the PRAXIS Principles of Learning and Teaching examination in three of the last five years with a 93 percent and 98 percent pass rate the other two years. This clearly shows that Bethel’s teacher candidates have been prepared to teach.”
Butler said the final order of the case was that Bethel’s status would be restored to the approved status it possessed before the Board invalidly attempted to deny Bethel’s EPP approval. The final order also said that all costs involved with the case would be taxed to the Tennessee State Board of Education.
“This is what we had been hoping for,” said Butler. “We are so excited to be back in the business of preparing teachers for the classroom. With the court’s final order of putting us back at the approved status we were at before, we can hit the ground running to enroll students interested in teacher education programs.”