Unions blast SUNY Board for ‘watered down’ charter school teacher training plan

Legislative Gazette photo by Katelyn Cordero

NYSUT and the United University Professions are blasting a SUNY Board of Trustees proposal to allow high-performing charter schools to set up their own training programs for teachers.

Both unions accused the charter school industry of trying to “bypass” state teaching certification regulations by using their own training programs and expressed concern that this would allow individuals with as little as 30 hours of experience to become teachers.

The proposal was based on legislation written by Senate Republicans which did not get passed before the end of the session. The bill, introduced by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-East Northport, would have given charter schools the ability to train and employ their own teachers for up to three years without outside certification.

The SUNY Board of Trustees decided to take the matter into their own hands and called an emergency meeting of the Charter School Committee where they proposed a plan that would allow SUNY authorized charter schools to develop their own teaching programs.

SUNY defended the proposal claiming that it would establish “certain parameters and requirements for charter schools that wish to operate alternative teacher preparation programs.”

UUP accused SUNY of directly contradicting its own Teach NY agenda with the proposal.

“SUNY’s intent appears to be a watering down of teacher certification requirements and a move to bypass traditional, college-based teacher preparation programs,” said UUP President Frederick Kowal. “That will harm SUNY’s very own teacher preparation programs and stands as an irreconcilable contradiction with the rhetoric of SUNY’s Teach NY initiative. It sends a terrible message to New Yorkers, who want the best teachers in their children’s classrooms, not educators who enter the profession by a short cut.”

On June 21, the SUNY Board Of Trustees adopted a new Teach NY policy on educator preparation which called for “a new standard of excellence for educator preparation that aligns with existing state and federal policies.”

“How can SUNY claim that it supports existing state and federal standards for teacher preparation, as stated in a TeachNY resolution adopted by the Board of Trustees, and allow its charter schools to create a new, lower tier of standards for teachers in charter schools,” asked Kowal.

UUP has joined NYSUT in creating a petition to get the Board of Trustees to vote against the proposal.

The petition is located on NYSUT’s Member Action Committee page.