Lawsuit filed over NY teacher certifications

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The State demands that manicurists receive 250 hours of instruction, but a decision made last week by the SUNY charter schools committee would allow a teacher to be certified under far fewer hours.

“There is an emergency shortage of teachers,” Joseph Belluck, Chair of the SUNY Charter Schools Committee, said.

Belluck says New York charter schools are facing a teacher shortage, prompting the committee to take action.

“People choosing to go into the teaching profession is down. So we have 50,000 students who are on a waiting list, those are kids whose parents want to send them to charter schools.”

The United Teacher’s Union president believes the problem is not a shortage, it is the retention.

“Where 40 percent of your teachers are leaving every year and you compare that to traditional public schools where it’s more like 15 percent,” Andy Pallotta, NYSUT President, said.

The new regulations that were approved would allow charter schools to certify their own teachers after 160 hours of classroom instruction.

“Bring people with more experience in a particular field into the teaching profession. We want to increase diversity in the teaching profession and make it easier for people who want to teach to be able to do that,” Belluck said.

Currently, state law requires that teachers have a master’s degree, yet the committee’s plan requires neither a master’s nor a bachelor’s degree.

“They have no authority to lower the standards so they’re acting without the authority that the legislature would have to change these standards,” Pallotta said.

The United Teacher’s Union filed a lawsuit against the SUNY committee claiming that SUNY is not going through the proper channels and cannot just change the law. The State Education Commissioner has also spoken out against this decision made by the SUNY committee.

“It’s an embarrassing narrative to say we’re having trouble keeping people so we’re going to lower the standards so we can get more people in,” Pallotta said.

“We think that the data and the performance of our charter schools support the idea that this is the right thing to do at this time,” Belluck said.

The charter school regulations should be implemented in the next few months.

The SUNY committee oversees more than 150 charter schools throughout the state.

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