NYS Exposed Education: State allows charter schools to certify their teachers

October 12, 2017 11:43 PM

It's a plan that will allow certain public schools to certify their own teachers... But critics say parents should be concerned that it could lead to unqualified teachers in our children's classrooms.

"It gives flexibility to schools that have been proven to work for students to serve those students even better," says Jason Zwarra, NY policy manager at Northeast Charter School Network.


The SUNY Board of Trustees approved the plan Wednesday for its 167 schools statewide. It will allow those charter schools to certify their own teachers, side-stepping New York's rigorous teacher certification process.

"It's a great experiment to see and to prove that this can work, that the traditional teacher certification process doesn't necessarily result in student achievement," says Zwarra.

The change was made to address a state-wide shortage of teacher candidates, but not everyone thinks experimenting with our student's classrooms is a good idea.

"You don't lower the bar for teachers, just to have more of them," says T. Andrew Brown, state Board of Regents.

T. Andrew Brown is vice chancellor for the state Board of Regents which developed the traditional certification process.

"90 percent of the students in those schools are students of color coming from disadvantaged backgrounds," says Brown. "Do we really want to now send them to schools with unqualified teachers?"

Rochester has six charter schools under the SUNY umbrella. Geoff Rosenberger is the board chairman for Rochester Prep which represents three of the schools.

"When I talk to the educators in our schools, what they tell me is that it is a lot easier to teach someone classroom management skills then it is to teach them course content," says Rosenberger.

He calls the plan innovative, but says there is precedent.

"If you look at private schools in New York State, their teachers aren't required to be certified," says Rosenberger. "I don't think anyone is suggesting that McQuaid or Harley or Allendale aren't providing a quality product."

He adds, "If a school has unqualified teachers, then the lack of qualified teachers is going to show up in student outcomes and if the student outcomes are poor, that school will be closed."

But as charter school's move forward with the plan -- the teachers union and advocacy groups continue their fight in opposition.

"We will see lawsuits filed in the coming days, certainly in the coming weeks," says Brown. "There are very significant issues with regard to the legality of the SUNY board's actions."

Local schools will have to first submit a plan for certifying teachers to SUNY for approval. Geoff Rosenberger says he's confident his charter schools will submit a plan.


Jennifer Mobilia

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