Sept. 12, 2017

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Unions give charter school certification plan failing grade at rally

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Watch a video of VPA Jamie Dangler speaking against SUNY's charter school certification plan at the rally

Education unionists and advocates from around the state – including UUP – sent a strong message to the SUNY Board of Trustees Sept. 12 that a dumbed-down certification process for charter school teachers must never be allowed in New York.

"We are devoted to educating the students in our state, and we oppose the SUNY Charter School Committee’s proposal to deny New York State students the right to have qualified, well-prepared and professionally mentored teachers in all classrooms," UUP Vice President for Academics Jamie Dangler, above, told a cheering crowd at a rally outside of the Embassy Suites Hotel in Saratoga Springs.

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More than 150 people were at the NYSUT-organized rally. Above, Albany Chapter President Aaron Major pushes a stroller as he carries a sign that says "Tell SUNY No Fake Credentials." NYSUT President Andrew Pallotta and Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango also spoke at the event.

SUNY board ignores rally

Inside, the SUNY Board of Trustees held one of its regular meetings; no one from the board spoke to the protestors. The full board will not vote on a proposal by the SUNY Charter Schools Committee to create a special teacher certification process that UUP and its affiliates call weak and insufficient; the committee has the authority to do that on its own. It is not known when the proposal will come up for a vote.

But NYSUT, UUP and a coalition of other unions and education advocacy groups have sent a strong message to the SUNY board, with strongly worded comments, public statements and letters signed by dozens of organizations around the state that advocate for children and oppose the charter schools proposal.

Children deserve better

Pallotta drew cheers when he asked the crowd how they would feel about flying in an airplane piloted by a crew that had been licensed to fly under a special, less stringent certification process.

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Marching in the rally was UUP member Kathy Farrell, above, a professional with Empire State College in Saratoga Springs. She said she had applauded the hard work her two nieces put forth to be certified as public school teachers in New York, and that one of them is teaching in an especially challenging school that serves a rural and often low-income population.

"The idea that you can train somebody in less time to handle the class she had is ridiculous," Farrell said.

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