NYSUT's Teacher/School Leader Preparation Workgroup met on May 31 to continue its work in addressing issues related to high-quality teacher and school leader preparation during a time of tremendous change. NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira facilitated the discussion, which included meeting with Stephanie Wood-Garnett, assistant commissioner of the State Education Department's Office of Higher Education.
Workgroup members continue to express their concerns with what many view as multi-tiered requests for increasing amounts of data for state as well as accreditation purposes, and question whether this results in program improvement or simply reduces their ability to plan and teach. They also question the nature of the data and the implications of data shown out of context.
Both faculty and professional staff members see value in increasing their networks for sharing information and taking action in terms of their perspectives and goals for their programs and students.
Assistant commissioner Wood-Garnett responded to particular suggestions such as moving the discussion forums regarding upcoming changes in school leader preparation programs to campuses in order to facilitate faculty involvement, and including more clarifying information in upcoming data profiles. These data profiles on specific preparation programs at college and universities will be published by SED, and members have concerns that the data can be misleading if unique program characteristics are not carefully described.
Outcomes of this meeting include the planning of a campus-based forum for school building leader discussions, as well as plans to enhance communication sharing and action planning on campuses.
Jamie Dangler, vice president for academics at United University Professions, NYSUT's local representing academic and professional faculty at the state-operated State University of New York campuses, offered suggestions to better engage a range of interested faculty members in conversations about ongoing issues, such as holding regional meetings.
Workgroup member Steve London, first vice president of the Professional Staff Congress, the NYSUT local that represents faculty and staff at the City University of New York, argued that emphasizing a testing regime in teacher preparation, similar to P-12 settings, will have a negative impact. "The whole experience of teaching - gets lost in the end," he said.