In new state role, George P. Drake Jr. will help oversee teacher standards
By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times
When Kennett Consolidated School District Board Member George P. Drake Jr. ended his eight years of service in November – a tenure that included stints as board president, vice president, and curriculum chair – he did not lessen his commitment to the district or to education.
At the time, Drake explained that he had new responsibilities that would prevent him from continuing to serve on the school board. He had been elected to the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators (PAC-TE) to represent the 14 institutions in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and he had also received word that he would be nominated by Gov. Corbett to serve on the Pennsylvania Professional Standards and Practices Commission.
Since then, Drake, an associate dean for curriculum and accreditation in West Chester University’s College of Education, was confirmed by the state Senate in April and sworn in several days later on April 17. He said he attended his first commission meeting in Harrisburg on Monday, May 12.
Drake said the Pennsylvania Professional Standards and Practices Commission is composed of 13 voting members, including seven teachers, three school administrators (at least one a commissioned officer and one a principal), one administrator of an institution of higher education engaged in educator preparation, and two members from the general public (one an elected public school director). Drake occupies the seat representing higher education.
According to the state web site, the commission is committed to improving the quality of education in Pennsylvania by providing leadership in the area of preparation, certification and standards of conduct for teachers. Drake said the Professional Standards and Practices Commission accomplishes those goals through two major functions: advisory and adjudicatory.
Besides assisting the State Board of Education and the Pennsylvania Department of Education on issues related to certification and teacher preparation standards, the Pennsylvania General Assembly has vested the commission with the legal authority to administer educator discipline and to oversee, when appropriate, the reinstatement of certificates suspended, surrendered or revoked, Drake said.
Drake said he believes his work on the Professional Standards and Practices Commission will be informed by his experiences on the Kennett board and more than two decades of work in educator preparation at West Chester University, which has sometime included removing candidates from the program for policy violations.
He said he was keenly aware of the commission’s role during his tenure on the school board. “Each time the commission acted to prevent someone from working with children as a result of either a criminal or non-criminal violation of the Educator Discipline Act, or a violation of the Code of Professional Practice and Conduct, my board colleagues and I knew that the district had an additional layer of protection for our children,” he said. “This has not been lost on me as I have reflected on my responsibilities on the commission.”