October 28, 2010

NYSUT to Steiner: Members' expertise must not be overlooked

Source: NYSUT Communications

NYSUT is responding to the State Education Department's plan to impose new standards on colleges and universities for training and educating teachers and school leaders.

At the first meeting of the NYSUT Teacher/School Leader Preparation Workgroup, NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira told State Education Commissioner David Steiner that NYSUT's higher ed faculty and leaders want their voices heard in the process.

"As we listen to you, commissioner, we hear your passion," Neira told Steiner this week at his first meeting with NYSUT's higher education leaders. "What you're hearing from us is our need to be engaged in that change. We urge you, at the same time you're bringing your vision, that you also listen, and be open to make modifications."

NYSUT formed the Teacher/School Leader Preparation Workgroup to develop a practitioners' response to the state's major initiative to revise the curricula for new teachers at colleges and universities, and to introduce new assessments for teacher candidates. The workgroup, made up of faculty from SUNY and CUNY schools of education, is developing recommendations and strategies for the NYSUT leadership to use in its advocacy with policy makers.

Steiner told the group that the changes are in response to uneven performances by students on the state's standardized tests, as well as surveys of new teachers that indicate they often feel ill prepared to enter the classroom.

He also said he believes poor performances by students can be linked to the training and education of the teachers of those students. The work group raised concerns that this position ignores the teaching and learning conditions at schools and the impact of poverty.

Among the changes Steiner's initiative would bring: Non-higher education institutions would have a role in teacher certification, in direct contrast to NYSUT's longstanding belief that teacher training and certification are best supervised by experienced higher education faculty with strong backgrounds in research and clinical experience.

The workgroup will develop an action plan to ensure other options are presented to the Regents.