November 16, 2009

Regents take first steps to transform teacher preparation

Source: NYSUT News Wire

As the Regents move forward with a new plan to strengthen teacher preparation and recruit highly effective teachers to high-needs schools, NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira said the union will advocate for a comprehensive system that is adequately funded and provides supports for teachers. "While well-prepared teachers are certainly at the core of the issue, we also need to expand the conversation," Neira said. "We need to look at improving learning and working conditions at schools so they are good for students and fair to teachers." 

The plan, unveiled and discussed at Monday's Regents' meeting,  reflects Commissioner David Steiner's focus on providing effective teachers as the linch-pin to student progress. 

Neira was encouraged that several Regents spoke of the importance of improving learning and working conditions, especially in high-need schools. In concert with strengthening teacher preparation, there must be a similar effort to develop strong leaders at the building level so they can support teachers in this effort, Neira said. 

The Regents' plan is dependent on substantial funding and the creation of a comprehensive p-16 data system and improved assessments, Neira noted. The plan calls for using value-added student assessment data as one factor in evaluating the effectiveness of new teachers. "I was gratified to hear the commissioner and Regents say that teaching and learning is more than one test score," she said. 

"Teacher preparation is just one piece in the puzzle," Neira said. "We look forward to working closely with the Commissioner and the Regents as they sketch out the details of this  ambitious plan." 

While the Regents voiced general support for the commissioner's plan, further details and discussion will emerge at next month's meeting. The Commissioner pledged to work closely with stakeholder groups, including the union.