Written 1999 (Updated 2007)
The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) was established in 1965 to maintain and improve performance in the education field. Functions of the Commission include approving teacher preparation programs offered by Oregon colleges and universities; licensing teachers, administrators, and other personnel employed in Oregon schools; and taking disciplinary actions when educators commit crimes or violate standards for competent and ethical performance.
TSPC consists of seventeen members appointed by the Governor and subject to confirmation by the Senate. The term of office for Commission members is three years. Commission members are drawn from the practicing educational community at all levels and three positions are reserved for members of the general public. Commissioners can serve no longer than two terms (6 years) unless requested to do so by the Governor.
The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission operates under ORS 342 and Oregon Administrative Rule 584.
The first school in Oregon was established in 1834 in French Prairie (Wheatland), some fifteen years before the Territorial Legislature would establish a free public school system in 1849.
When Congress created the Oregon Territory in 1849, it gave two sections from each township to the territory to use for public education. In 1850, the territorial legislature established a system of free public schools. An educated population was thought to be essential for the practice of self-government.
Between 1849 and 1854 the functions of school oversight were carried out by the county commissioners or by officials variously called the school commissioner or the superintendent of common schools. The superintendent was required to keep records showing the boundaries and numbers of all school districts in the county, accounts of the school districts, teachers' certification records and contracts, and student records.
1854 brought legislative action about schools as the territorial legislature provided for the election of a county superintendent of schools. The first attempt at coordinating the county school districts occurred in 1859 when the state system for common schools was established.
In 1872 the Legislative Assembly created the State Board of Education (Oregon Law 1872, p. 146). The Board was given authority over the granting of life diplomas and certificates to teachers and the revocation of diplomas for "immoral or other unprofessional conduct". (Oregon Law 1872, Chapter 38) The 1872 legislation also provided for the Superintendent of Public Instruction to be detached from the Governor's Office. The first Superintendent of Public Instruction, Sylvester Simpson, was appointed in 1873.
A new law in 1899 required the Board of Education to appoint a state Board of Examiners to oversee teacher certification. The Superintendent of Public Instruction appointed members to the board. (Oregon Law 1899, p. 209) Twelve years later in 1911 the Legislative Assembly created a chain of appeal to the Board of Education for teachers who had their teaching certification revoked. (Oregon Law 1911, Chapter 58) 1935 brought the abolition of the State Board of Examiners (Oregon Law 1935, Chapter 38).
A 1947 law enabled the Superintendent of Public Instruction to deny funds to school districts that did not meet state standards for school buildings, staff, organization, and curriculum. (Oregon Law 1947, Chapter 357)
In 1951 the Department of Education was established as the central agency responsible for educational activities in Oregon. At this time, the Governor and Secretary of State were removed from the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction was granted authority to head the new Department of Education (Oregon Law 1951, Chapter 169).
The movement towards professional recognition of teachers had its' beginnings in 1955 when Dr. David Darland of the Oregon Education Association (OEA) had discussions with colleagues from the California Teachers Association (Dr. Arthur F. Corey) and the National Education Association (T.M. Stinnett and Ralph McDonald) about elevation of the profession. Four years later the Oregon Educational Association (OEA) published 'A Conceptual Design for the Teaching Profession', written by Dr. Darland. That paper outlined the structure for what was to become the first teachers' independent professional standards commission for teachers in the nation in 1965.
The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission was established in 1965 by the Legislative Assembly (Oregon Law 1965, Chapter 535). The Commission was to advise the Department of Education on teacher standards and licensing issues.
1965 also saw other advancements in education law. The 'Teacher Tenure Act' (Oregon Law 1965, Chapter 608) defined classes of certification within the teaching profession and other laws (Oregon Law 1965, Chapter 550) outlined what particular levels of certification qualified teachers to teach as well as (Oregon Law 1965, Chapter 100) provisions for the hiring, dismissal and resignation of teachers.
In 1973 the Legislative Assembly transferred the authority for granting and revoking educator certificates/licenses to the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (Oregon Law 1973, Chapters 228 and 270). Previously, the Commission had served an advisory role and was not responsible for performing this function.
Six years later in 1979, the appointing entity for TSPC Commissioners changed from the Board of Education to the Governor. This change mirrored the appointment authority other professional boards who are charged with certification/licensure duties in Oregon. The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission viewed this as an official recognition of the education profession by the State of Oregon.
In 1991 (Oregon Law, Chapter 710) qualifications were established for those who teach distance learning courses (telecourses) that originate in Oregon.
TSPC maintains a small office (21 people) that performs the primary licensing functions, (including licensing of teachers, administrators and school nurses) and educator license violation investigations for the entire State of Oregon. The office is also the primary coordination point for education courses and examinations held in Oregon universities and colleges. Additionally, the office maintains the records for the 17 member Commission.
Department of Education Administrative Overview
Teacher Standards and Practices Web site
Oregon Blue Book 1999-2000
Committee on Education Report, ca. 1854
Oregon Revised Statutes and Oregon Administrative Rules