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Urban Education Department Makes the Grade, Earns Commendations from TEA

By Hayden Bergman

In the chorus of the 1990s show ‘Walker, Texas Ranger,’ Chuck Norris sings, or growls, rather, an ominous warning to all criminals in the Lone Star State: “Cause the eyes of a Ranger are upon you; Any wrong you do, he's gonna see, When you're in Texas, look behind you; 'Cause that's where the Ranger's gonna be.” When it comes to justice, Walker is the authority, and the highest one in the state at that.

tea-logo-header-2_0And while the Texas Education Agency (TEA) doesn’t have a catchy theme song (they should change that by the way), they are similar to Texas’ favorite law enforcement officer in that the agency is the highest authority in the state when it comes to matters in their purview: primary and secondary public education. It’s significant, then, if the TEA recognizes a university’s education and teacher preparation programs as high achieving.

That’s just what has happened recently, as UHD’s Urban Education program was highly ranked in the TEA’s recent announcement of commendations for educator preparation programs for the academic year 2022-2023. The program was one of only five programs from across the state to receive a commendation for “Preparing the Educators Texas Needs” in Bilingual/ESL, considered a content shortage area in the state. Too, the program was one of only three programs to receive a commendation for “Preparing Educators for Long Term Success” in terms of five consecutive years retention as a Texas educator.

“These TEA Commendations speak volumes about our development of bilingual/ESL teachers and the staying power of teachers trained by UHD, which are two critical metrics in measuring the success of our teacher preparation program,” said UHD College of Public Service Dean Jonathan Schwartz. “The leadership of our Urban Education Department has continuously improved our program in the last four years. The result of their hard work is teachers who are prepared for success on day one and are able to stay and prosper in the field of teaching. The impact on the children in the Houston region is significant.”

And because, success, as the maxim goes, breeds success, UHD has recently been prominently featured in presentations from The Educational Trust (TET), thanks to alumnus Brandon Jenkins and his 2022 testimony before the Texas legislature.

TET used Jenkins’ testimony first at a meeting of the Houston Teacher Pipeline Community of Practice, while the second time was at a meeting of the Texas Association of Colleges of Teacher Education. In both cases, his statement was used to tell the story of how the Department of Urban Education is providing a high-quality pathway into the teaching profession.

Both the TEA commendations and the use of Jenkins’ testimony serve as even more evidence of what students, administrators, and lawmakers in Houston and beyond already know: UHD’s Urban Education program prepares its students so well that, when they enter a classroom as a teacher for the first time, they have the knowledge and skills to succeed and help the children of Texas for years to come.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit