March Issue
March 06, 2015

Cuomo calls for 5-year renewals

Author: By Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United

In yet another example of his attempt to seize control of the state's public education system, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants educators to renew their certification every five years. Starting next school year, he's envisioning an online recertification requirement — just like you have to re-register your car with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Under Cuomo's plan, all teachers, teaching assistants (with level III certificates) and those with educational leadership certificates would have to pay a fee to re-register their certification with the State Education Department every five years. No additional funding for SED is provided for this new responsibility.

In addition, the governor would require teachers and TAs with professional certificates to complete 100 hours of state-approved continuing education training, taking professional development out of the hands of local districts. Cuomo said SED would issue "rigorous standards for courses and programs that shall qualify."

NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said the union is urging state lawmakers to reject the plan.

"This proposal makes no sense," she said. "It adds a bureaucratic layer that would impose unnecessary costs on educators and SED. It's yet another example of Gov. Cuomo's heavy-handed attempt to seize power over the state's public education system."

Many steps are currently needed for an educator to earn a professional certificate, including supervised K-12 clinical experiences, passing state certification exams and earning a master's degree. To maintain certification, teachers must complete 175 hours of professional development every five years; TAs must complete 75 hours.

Currently, districts are responsible for providing professional learning opportunities. Under Cuomo's plan, the onus — and expense — would be on the educator.

The re-registration plan for certified educators is just one in a series of misguided proposals by Cuomo that would surely discourage would-be teachers from entering the profession. Other provisions would set statewide admission requirements for graduate-level teacher education; allow teacher preparation programs at SUNY, CUNY and private colleges to be closed based on student test scores; and make it more difficult for new teachers to earn tenure.