SUNY’s Controversial Plan to Allows Charters to Certify Teachers:
Firstly, SUNY is a nationally recognized charter school authorizer from NY state. SUNY recently made headlines for approving a new, innovative approach by allowing its high-performing charter schools to certify their teachers. Some Charter schools experience hard times staffing their schools with highly qualified staff. Consequently, teacher turnover rates are higher than in traditional public schools.
According to a study on teacher turnover conducted on charter and public school teachers in Los Angeles, determined that charter school teachers leave at a 33% higher rate than teachers at traditional public schools.
Generally speaking, as a school leader in public charter schools, I have always operated under the mantra that no teacher education program was created equal. We would have some first-year teachers that were extremely prepared for the classroom. We have others that are less prepared to take over a class. It comes as no surprise that colleges and universities are not in favor of this new teacher certification initiative.
Not to mention, universities lose a ton of money if potential teachers no longer obtained Master’s degrees in education. I am not sure what the world of education would do if out of touch college and university professors lost their soapboxes, and had to move away from the theory component of teacher training. Imagine if they had to deal with the complexities of the practice component of training teachers. One of the most significant takeaways from my teacher education program was, in theory, everything works. However, in practice, well that is a different story.
Moreover, another major player in opposing SUNY charters to certify their teachers is the state’s largest teachers’ union. Those familiar with NYSUT should not be surprised by their stance. Anything anti-establishment in my opinion usually draws ire from NYSUT. I am not sure if NYSUT is upset because they did not have a say in the process. Maybe this is just legal posturing. It could be their usual malcontent for anything charter school related.
It’s Never Really About the Students:
Lastly, and most importantly, what about the Scholars? Success Academy, and other top performing charter schools that will have the honor of certifying their teachers. Success Academies have knocked the ball out of the park with their performance on NY State assessments. If I were a teacher, training under schools that have a proven formula for success (no pun intended) would entice me. I would choose this over a dreadful undergraduate program that doesn’t prepare you for teaching.
Notwithstanding, how will this benefit the scholars? Having an in-house training program will allow charters to build teacher capacity and stamina for the work. Two of the top five reasons teachers leave charter schools are lack of administrator support and job security. Charter schools would be more invested in keeping staff that they have trained from the ground up. Plus, it is a lot easier to hold charter school’s accountable for staff attrition if they are certifying their teachers. We all want teacher turnover to decrease, and that will undoubtedly benefit scholars.
My opinion is that I like the idea. However, I want to love the idea. Having a clear and transparent record keeping of staff attrition is helpful. There would need to be a way to monitor teachers who leave after they are certified. Possibly only allowing these teachers to transfer to other SUNY endorsed schools.