ALBANY, N.Y. Oct. 12, 2017 — New York State United Teachers and its largest local affiliate, the United Federation of Teachers, today sued to block the SUNY Charter Schools Committee from implementing illegal regulations that undermine the teaching profession by allowing unqualified teachers to work in SUNY-authorized charter schools.
The suit filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan charges that the SUNY Charter Schools Committee exceeded its legal authority and usurped the role of the Legislature by adopting watered-down requirements allowing charter teachers to be certified with as little as a month of coursework and just one week of actual practice teaching.
NYSUT President Andy Pallotta noted that while charter networks are plagued by sky-high teacher turnover — with teachers in some charters fleeing at triple the rate typically seen in district schools — lowering the standards is the wrong approach and one that hurts children.
“These illegal regulations tell the people that New York State cares more about nail salon customers than children in charter schools,” Pallotta said. “How can New York State demand that manicurists need 250 hours of instruction but allow charter school teachers to get certified with far fewer hours of training?”
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said, “It is not easy to become a fully certified teacher in New York, nor should it be. All our kids deserve to be taught by teachers who have gone through a rigorous process, but the Charter Schools Committee has just approved a measure that would toss these standards aside for charters — all because some charter schools have trouble meeting them.”
The lawsuit petitions the court to overturn Wednesday’s vote by the SUNY Charter Schools Committee. It notes that, in passing the Charter Schools Act, the Legislature required teachers in charter schools to meet the same stringent requirements for certification applicable to all teachers working in other public schools, with a few, limited exceptions. A 2016 law only authorized the SUNY Charter Schools Committee to promulgate regulations concerning the “governance, structure and operations” of a charter school and did not empower SUNY to adopt regulations that set up a lower, second-tier for teacher certification.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.