Renamed Bachelor's in Education at UHD Supporting Tomorrow's Teachers
By Mike Emery
The ongoing pandemic continues to reshape education in our nation. As schools balance in-person and online instruction, the need for trained, versatile educators becomes more apparent for school districts.
For decades, the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) has produced classroom-ready educators through its Department of Urban Education (based in the College of Public Service). Now, a degree name change may not only recruit more aspiring educators to UHD but also support the region’s demand for qualified teachers.
This fall, undergraduate students can focus their academic goals toward earning a Bachelor of Arts in Education (previously known as the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies). The name change, said Urban Education Chair, Dr. Christal Burnett Sánchez, will further support the department’s mission of preparing students to serve as leaders, mentors and teachers for students, primarily in at-risk or low-income communities.
Since 1979, universities had been prohibited from offering degrees in education. Instead, students might focus degrees on specific disciplines (math, history, science, art, etc.) to become educators in those subjects. Students seeking to teach special education, elementary school or bilingual education would often earn degrees in interdisciplinary studies. In 2019, Texas House Bill 3217 reinstated degrees in education at the state’s universities and colleges.
“Having a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree is long overdue,” she said. “Our pre-service teachers devote their education and life to teaching children pre-kindergarten through grade 12. It's important that they have a degree that clearly identifies their field of study.”
Students pursuing a B.A. in Education receive expert instruction from award-winning faculty (many of whom are veteran educators); prepare for the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards; and work with children in classrooms. Students also have the opportunity to earn certifications that address specific student populations, such as Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language (ESL) and Special Education.
The renamed degree loses none of the qualities that made it appealing to countless educators in the region who graduated from UHD. If anything, the renamed B.A. in Education complements and reinforces the career goals of Urban Education students.
“A degree in education also brings a level of prestige to our field as we continue to uplift our profession and recognize that teaching is a chosen career path for those who want to provide positive educational experiences for children,” Burnett-Sánchez said.
Students agree with this sentiment. According to student Lesley Baurle, a B.A. in Education will signify her chosen profession to future employers, peers and parents.
Presently, Baurle is in the professional development stages of her academic career and pursuing Core Subjects EC-6 with a supplemental certification in ESL.
“The Bachelor of Arts in Education characterizes the importance of the degree with a clear connection to education,” Baurle said. “With this, there is a sense of pride, ownership and dedication for those who have chosen this rewarding profession. There will be no question of the field of study for those who will soon dedicate themselves to the future of their students.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—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 Interim President Dr. Antonio D. Tillis. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts more than 51,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College).
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.