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CONTACT: Mike Lisi (518) 640-6600
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July 6, 2017

SUNY’s charter school training proposal contradicts Teach NY

United University Professions, the nation’s largest higher education union, strongly opposes a SUNY Board of Trustees plan to let a number of SUNY-authorized charter schools skirt the state’s stringent teacher certification requirements and create their own teacher training programs.

This far easier pathway to certification—which could put people with as few as 30 hours of classroom instruction in charter school teaching positions—is in direct contradiction to SUNY’s own Teach NY agenda, which calls for higher standards to “elevate the teaching profession.”

The proposal, which the Trustees will consider today in a hastily called “emergency meeting” of its Charter Schools Committee, raised serious concerns for UUP, which represents hundreds of faculty and professional staff who work at SUNY teacher education programs statewide.

“How can SUNY claim that it supports existing state and federal standards for teacher preparation, as stated in a TeachNY resolution adopted by the Board of Trustees, and allow its charter schools to create a new, lower tier of standards for teachers in charter schools?,” asked UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D. “This unacceptable proposal bucks the stated objectives of SUNY's own Teach NY initiative, which was presented as a plan to strengthen the teaching profession while creating a system that ensures that every student is taught by a great teacher.”

SUNY claims its proposed charter school teacher certification regulations “link certification to programs that have demonstrated student success and do not require teachers to complete a set of steps, tests and tasks not designed for teachers embedded in a high-quality school.” SUNY would also establish “certain parameters and requirements for charter schools that wish to operate alternative teacher preparation programs.”

“SUNY appears to be saying that schools that hire teachers who complete college teacher preparation programs and meet the state’s teacher certification standards are not high quality schools. That’s ridiculous and it undermines all the work that’s been done in our state to strengthen teacher preparation and improve the teacher certification exams and process,” said Jamie Dangler, UUP’s vice president for academics and a member of the state’s edTPA Task Force.

Teach NY, according to SUNY’s website, is touted as “a movement to lift up the teaching profession and to ensure that New York and the nation will have the high quality educators needed for the future.” SUNY’s goal through Teach NY is to “attract, develop, and retain a sufficiently large, diverse corps of highly qualified and uniformly efficacious teachers committed to continuous improvement and excellence in their profession.”

“SUNY’s intent appears to be a watering down of teacher certification requirements and a move to bypass traditional, college-based teacher preparation programs,” Kowal said. “That will harm SUNY’s very own teacher preparation programs and stands as an irreconcilable contradiction with the rhetoric of SUNY’s Teach NY initiative.”

Kowal continued: “It sends a terrible message to New Yorkers, who want the best teachers in their children’s classrooms, not educators who enter the profession by a short cut.”

On June 21, the Trustees adopted a resolution to implement SUNY’s new Teach NY policy on Educator Preparation, calling for a “new standard of excellence for educator preparation that aligns with existing state and federal policies.”

The Trustees’ proposal stems from regulations that came about in the final hours of June’s legislative session.

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 37,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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