ALBANY, N.Y. Oct. 11, 2017 — New York State United Teachers today said amended regulations adopted by the SUNY Charter Schools Committee violate the law and would allow unqualified teachers to work in their charter schools.
NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said, “The committee can amend this bad proposal until the cows come home, but it doesn’t change the fact that these regulations sell out the state’s most vulnerable children to score political points.”
Background on amended SUNY Charter Schools Committee regulations
The new charter proposal increases the number of required instructional hours for teachers who go through the charter school program from 30 hours to 160 hours — from roughly one week to one month. However, it continues to allow charters to have unqualified teacher preparation instructors deliver the program.
The amended regulations decrease teacher candidate field experience from 100 hours to 40 hours. It also reduces requirements for charter school “certification” for ESOL and special education from 75 hours to 40 hours. Like the initial proposal, it does not require a student teaching clinical experience supervised by a qualified teacher in a setting outside of the charter school providing “instruction.”
The new proposal refers to teacher preparation programs requiring applicants to complete “a master’s degree in education or bachelor’s degree or higher in any subject area from an accredited institution….” However, this reference is followed by “or shall have been found to have the necessary knowledge and skills to successfully complete the program as determined by the institute.” This means that a bachelor’s or master’s degree is not required and that the institute itself would decide who is allowed to teach, with no actual required criteria.
In its list of criteria for instructors for its teacher preparation program, a requirement for classroom teaching experience; bachelor’s degree; and certification as a school administrator appears reasonable. However, an “out” clause states that instructors could be individuals who “have the expertise, advanced study, or licensure appropriate to the field” to teach a course effectively, with such eligibility “subject to prior approval by the institute.” The Charter Schools Committee is attempting to set up an internal system with no required external standards or assessment.
The new proposal refers to one of the three required state teacher certification examinations. Assessment of their teacher candidates “may be either the state teacher certification examination, Educating All Students (“EAS”) test; or an examination that measures, at a minimum, all required elements of the EAS test, and is approved by the Institute.” This means their teacher certification candidates really don’t have to take even that one state certification exam.
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.