Charter Schools Institute
State University of New York
41 State Street, Suite 700
Albany, NY 12207
TO: Committee Chair: Joseph W. Belluck
RE: Memorandum in Opposition to Regulations Governing the Certification of Teachers in SUNY Authorized Charter Schools (Namely, Subchapter E – Regulations of the Board of Trustees Charter School Committee – Section 700. 1-7)
I urge the members of the Charter School Committee to withdraw the ill-conceived regulations governing the certification of SUNY charter school teachers.
New York State has been among the leaders across the nation in the licensing of the professions. The Office of the Professions licenses almost a million professionals in the state. From acupuncturists, dentists, doctors, nurses to pharmacists, psychologists and veterinarians – over 60 professions fall under the Office of the Professions (See total list here), an arm of the New York State Department of Education. The Office works with national associations to assure that all licensed professionals meet the highest standards of their profession (See list of national associations here).
Currently prospective teachers in New York State must complete an approved course of study, approved by the State Education Department, pass three examinations, and serve a four year probationary period. In “shortage areas” the state provides a number of alternative pathways. Additionally, college programs must pass scrutiny by CAEP (Council on the Accreditation of Education Programs); the state also “tracks” graduates and reports on teacher effectiveness by college program. If grades on certification examinations are below standard or student performance of program graduates is inadequate the programs are in jeopardy.
The State Education Department licensure/certification requirements make every attempt to assure that new teachers are well prepared before they step foot into a classroom as teachers.
The supporters of the proposal argue that it is difficult to find certified teachers and exempting teachers from the long established teacher certification rules is required.
A weak argument.
There are a host of professions in which licensed professionals are in short supply, for example, nurses, doctors and dentists in rural areas, should we reduce requirements for these professions?
Of course not.
Should we allow prospective attorneys to skip law school and the bar exams and simply serve as an intern into a law office for 100 hours? Are teachers less important than attorneys?
Charter schools face a serious staffing problem – the problem is caused by extremely high rates of teacher attrition. The turnover rate is troubling, it takes three to five years for a teacher to fully learn their job – if teachers are leaving after one or two years students are constantly faced with new and inexperienced teachers.
Why are teachers leaving charter schools?
I suggest the Charter School Institute withdraw the resolution referenced supra and instead require charter schools to develop teacher retention plans with retention targets, and, reaching or surpassing the targets become part of the charter reauthorization process.
Teacher certification is not limited to colleges, the state has approved other institutions to certify teachers – the Museum of Natural History provides a teacher certification program in Earth Science, a shortage area subject. Teacher residency programs (See I-Start here) allows not-for-profits to partner with school districts and colleges to provide intensive teacher preparation programs approved by the State Education Department.
All of the alternative pathways to teaching appropriately fall under the State Education Department.
The proposed regulation which removes the state from the process denigrates teaching as a profession and only encourages the canard that anyone can teach.
Mr. Belluck I am sure that you want(ed) the best possible teachers for your children and/or grandchild. The current teacher certification procedures sets both high standards for teacher training institutions and for prospective teachers. Your proposed regulations simply undermine decades of efforts to raise standards for teachers and outcomes for students.
I am certain that Chancellor Rosa and Commissioner Elia are more than willing to work with the Institute to explore and develop plans to reduce teacher attrition and explore alternative certification pathways in shortage certification areas.
Ed in the Apple
Blogging on the Intersection of Education and Politics