Statement by NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi
"NYSUT is on record supporting a rigorous, comprehensive process for granting tenure. Sadly, Chancellor Klein and the state school boards association made it clear today that they are pressing for a cheap, down-and-dirty process, rather than meeting their obligations to uphold the high standards this process deserves.
"Last year, the Legislature and the governor made a commitment to invest additional resources in the state's neediest schools. At the same time, they instituted new accountability measures - measures that NYSUT supports. The new accountability provisions include setting minimum (not maximum) standards statewide for the process of deciding on tenure.
"The current bill language on tenure isn't new; it delineates accountability provisions put into place last year by the Legislature and the governor.
"The intent was to standardize the statewide process by establishing a foundation for tenure determination, with local districts still free to negotiate requirements based on their own community needs.
"As part of tenure determination, teachers can be evaluated on how they use student test scores to adjust and improve instruction as one measure of teacher effectiveness - absolutely critical at a time when testing occurs at every age and grade level.
"Student tests are designed to be diagnostic, to identify students who need extra help and to help teachers plan instruction. These tests were never intended as a blunt instrument to evaluate teachers. In addition to being a use for which they were never designed, such misapplication would penalize educators who take on difficult teaching assignments and those who work in the neediest, most hard-to-staff schools.
"The process set by the Legislature last year also calls for peer review when possible - one of the highest standards available.
"As always, tenure decisions continue to be made at the district level by administrators, superintendents and school boards. In fact, the current bill language broadens the scope of administrative options.
"The standards established by the Legislature are part of the state's multi-year commitment to providing additional resources and quality instruction to close the achievement gap for students in need. The Legislature should be praised for raising the bar and following through on that commitment."
NYSUT represents more than 585,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.