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New York State Certification
August 01, 2017

NYSUT opposes 'fake' certification for charter school teachers

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT Communications

NYSUT blasted the SUNY Charter School Institute's plan to allow some charter schools to certify their own teachers, saying it opens a back door to "fake" certification.

In a strongly worded public comment letter, NYSUT urges trustees not to go along with proposed regulations that would allow some charter schools to bypass state certification standards and "certify" teachers with just 30 hours of in-house training and only a couple weeks of field experience. NYSUT strongly believes all students deserve to be taught by qualified teachers who have met rigorous certification standards.

"The 'certification pathway' detailed in the draft regulations is not a certification at all," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango in a fiery five-page letter. "The piece of paper given to a person who completes the (proposed) process amounts to a coupon that is only redeemable for employment at SUNY charter schools."

DiBrango said the regulations, if enacted, would "significantly undercut the quality of teaching in charter schools by permitting unqualified individuals to educate large numbers of high needs students." She noted New York has a rich tradition of high quality teacher education programs and is well regarded for its rigorous teacher certification requirements. "The education of our children depends on it," she said.

NYSUT's public comment letter is the latest in the union's effort to beat back the draft regulations that emerged quietly in the final hours of the legislative session and were approved by a SUNY committee in late June to address complaints that charter chains are finding it difficult to attract and retain certified teachers.

Appearing on Capitol Pressroom, NYSUT President Andy Pallotta called the plan outrageous, insulting to the teaching profession, as well as the state's students. United University Professions, NYSUT's affiliate at SUNY, noted the plan to lower standards contradicts SUNY's own TeachNY agenda, which calls for higher standards to "elevate the teaching professions." Both the State Education Commissioner and Regents Chancellor have voiced strong concerns over the plan, as well as a group of SUNY Deans and Directors of Education Programs.

Make your voice heard

The SUNY Board needs to hear from educators. The public comment period for the state's proposal, called Alternative Teacher Certification Compliance Pathways for SUNY Charter Schools, opened on July 26 and will remain open for 45 days.

Here is a link to the regulation change and a public comment link where you can email your own thoughts on this dangerous plan.

Letter to SUNY Charter Schools Institute

The text of Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango's letter to the SUNY Charter Schools Institute is available online with NYSUT's press statement.

A PDF version is also available.