11 thoughts on “CityViews: How NYS Decided to Lower Teacher Standards for Some Charter Schools

  1. Thank you, Jake!
    It is so sad that NYS teachers are so devalued that we have a shortage and then the sabatoeurs create an alternate route to staff their Charter Schools, further eroding the profession.

  2. Certification in the U.S. is just not a good way to identify good teachers and screen out bad ones. As public school teachers, we know many certified peers who are not qualified to run a classroom, and many uncertified people who would make amazing teachers but cannot afford or do not want to jump through the hoops to get certified. Criticising test-based accountability is a straw man argument; so is pointing to credentials such as a bachelors degree as necessary for teaching. The only way to identify a good teacher is to get them in a classroom and evaluate the student learning that occurs. Certification is just a barrier to entry which benefits higher education by forcing people who want to be teachers to pay them for programs of dubious value.

    • Now–as a parent wouldn’t you want to know that the person or people teaching your child at the very least has a BA and some training on how to teach children? Have some background knowledge of child development? Those who are not certified and serve as great role models should mentor the youth who need a mentor. That is surely another form of teaching.

    • Gideon, we agree that the financial barriers to education degrees are too high, but you are buying in to a few myths here – first, the “bad teacher” myth. No doubt there are awful teachers out there, but not as many as years past, and if so, it only means an administrator dropped the ball. Also, inner city schools do not get many applicants and we all know about NY’s looming 40% teacher shortage.

      The idea a potentially great teacher is not willing to “jump through hoops” is a cop-out. If you and I can do it, any “great” teacher can and should, to make themselves marketable. Plus, TFA and other quick-start pathways have existed for decades, but charter schools lose twice as many teachers as district schools because they are joyless testing factories not conducive to creative, autonomous employees.

      I agree that some degree programs are lacking, particularly online “McDegrees” like Relay GSE which cuts corners, but SUNY has some of the best programs, with the lowest tuition to boot.

      I originally had a Transitional license myself and finished my Masters after a year in the classroom. I had some great mentors in my degree program and some not as good, but overall I was well prepared to teach and felt the degree was well worth it (especially after five years teaching when I qualified for partial loan forgiveness).

      If we need to improve teaching recruitment, why give special privileges to charter schools who serve less than 4% of NY’s students and trap teachers in the network?

    • Gideon, higher education is NOT benefiting much today – there is a 40% shortage in education programs in NY. This only makes it worse. But we agree that tuition should be lower for more applicants so it is not a barrier.

    • If certification is a barrier to entry then why stop at the teaching profession…is it ok for someone who hasn’t spent the time in learning teaching methods and perhaps subject matter to be responsible of someone else’s education? As a parent I would not want my child to be taught by someone who can’t bother to even have a H.S. Diploma.

    • “The only way to identify a good teacher is to get them in a classroom and evaluate the student learning that occurs.”

      How can you evaluate the student learning that occurs if you are ALSO fine with a charter school getting rid of every child who is not learning under that teacher? Once you give charters permission to identify the non-learners and kick them out, every teacher the charter wants to keep is guaranteed to have 100% passing rates!

      If you are a teacher you would be appalled if your principal decided that all students who her favorite teacher was struggling to teach were sent to your class so that the favored teacher only had students she could easily teach. You would be appalled if that favored teacher was winning awards for her exemplary teaching skills while you were being castigated as a failure because you weren’t having any better luck with those students newly dumped into your classroom than the principal’s favorite teacher did. You would be angry when you were fired because the favored teacher had 100% passing rates (after dumping her low performers in your classroom) while you had much lower passing rates so everyone agreed you were the worst teacher ever.

      You’d have to have no understanding of statistics if you believed that the teacher who was allowed to dump all her low performing students was “better” than the teacher who was required to teach all the low performing students dumped by the “great” teacher.

      It is possible that there is a different kind of certification pathway, but it is NOT possible that evaluating a teacher AFTER you have allowed her to dump any students who aren’t doing well is a good way to evaluate teachers — or schools. But that is exactly how the SUNY Charter Institute believes evaluation should be done. It’s all about the kids who remain and the ones who disappear are not part of the evaluation.

      And something is terribly wrong with that kind of system as I suspect you agree.

    • “The only way to identify a good teacher is to get them in a classroom and evaluate the learning that occurs.” Is Gideon advocating using our children as guinea pigs to participate in an experiment that would see if anyone off the street can improve outcomes? Is that really the ONLY way? Children have only one chance at an education and he would advocate wasting their years in classrooms auditioning people to see if they learn anything from an untrained person? Anyone else want to do away with qualifications and sacrifice their own child’s education to this experiment? Professions have standards for a reason. We don’t put untrained people in medical offices and wait to see if their patients get sicker or better. When teaching was respected as a profession, there was no 60% turnover. We stayed committed to our careers for our whole lives. But the emphasis on teaching to the tests, the unjust evaluation pressures (detailed in this article) and the abusive administrators that populate the system have led to teachers leaving in droves. That is why these charter schools want to eliminate standards. They can’t keep professional teachers so they need a warm body in front of the room. It’s not because we are missing out on people who are kept out of the classroom by high standards and then gambling on whether they can teach or not in front of real students. It’s about recruiting and RETAINING the best and the brightest, something Moskowitz’s desperate charters apparently unable to do.

    • As a parent of children in public schools in NYC, I do not want my kids taught by someone who has not gone or is not going through professional certification.

      Why is it OK for teachers not to be certified in a rigorous program when nobody would advocate the same for medical doctors or lawyers? This attitude – devaluing the profession of teaching – is why there is a shortage of teachers. It’s not the certification requirement that discourages people from pursuing teaching.

  3. Lets ground our arguments in some reality. Which of us would go to a physician who is not licensed or a lawyer who has not passed the Bar? I see certification and the willingness to endure through some of the hoops as commitment to the profession. The willingness of an individual to endure some level of difficulty as they prepare to enter into a classroom, of amazing and hormonal teens in the south bronx for example. Teaching is an art and prestige needs to be bestowed upon it the way we bestow prestige on the title of lawyer and doctor. I can appreciate this article and am unfortunately not surprised at the shenanigans occurring in the guise of supporting poverty stricken families. It reminds me of when european countries conquered in the name of “christ” they should have read the bible and our fellow charter and SUNY colleagues should re-visit Deborah Meiers book The Power of their Ideas to see what it takes to teach and stop assuming that children from poor neighborhoods need saving, what they need are resources and people who believe in their ability and are willing to work along side them because they believe they are amazing.

  4. Cameras in every classroom would allow much more accurate teacher assessments. Rather than a 30 min observation by an administrator who is likely lacking in content area knowledge, a teacher can be assessed over a longer period and actual student-teacher interactions can be captured. Plus, it would eliminate the often arbitrary teacher ratings by a capricious administrator, allowing teachers to defend themselves with real evidence. If body-cams for police are considered appropriate or necessary to protect the public from misconduct, certainly our young students should have such protection. The emotional brutality of some teachers may leave far worse scars than those inflicted by a momentary “excessive force” incident. Let’s face it, children are prisoners at the mercy of the adults in charge. A person who is unwilling to put in the time and effort to become certified should not be gifted with such awesome responsibility over the daily lives of children. If our children are precious to us, then teacher training should be expanded rather than minimized or waived. The “expanded” hours students spend in school are excessive and unfocused, leading to “disruptive” behaviors that are often blamed on the teacher’s poor classroom management. Forcing the school environment and regimens upon children for so many long hours on a daily basis is contrary to their developmental needs and their resistance and restlessness should be expected–not punished. Teachers are expected to bend nature to conform to ever increasing learning and testing demands in overcrowded classrooms that promote frustration in virtually all students and teachers. I have a solution that will not increase educational costs or require more teachers. Half the students attend the morning session, the other half attend afternoon. Less students at a time per teacher, more individualized instruction, greater focus concentrated over a shorter school session—less wasted time, less neglect of special needs learners, less exhaustion and frustration will equal more effective teaching and learning despite (or perhaps because of) less hours spent in the classroom. Reading, writing and basic math—no other subjects until proficiency in these three is obtained. It is absurd to place students in science class when they are still reading at second grade level. Many will find this educational model unacceptable mainly because free babysitting hours will be reduced. But the truth is it doesn’t take a village to raise a child. It takes a FAMILY. So many purportedly progressive programs such as universal pre-K and extended school hours, the fiscal support for congregational daycare–these all work to promote disrespect for the stay at home parent. Indeed, loving one’s children by foregoing a career outside the home in favor of spending those ladder climbing years nurturing our young is deemed somewhat dysfunctional. And because so many families are two income households, that extra income appears as necessary to maintain a decent lifestyle. But if at least one parent left the workforce to be a full-time parent, there would be a smaller pool of workers available to employers and competition for these workers would lead to higher compensation, enabling the survival of the family on just one income. But survival would never satisfy–the best interest of the children is expendable in pursuit of a lifestyle deemed prosperous.
    And what to do about the one parent household? Any parent that deserts their family, leaving them in poverty and forcing the left behind parent to both work outside the home as well as parent alone—should be prosecuted and incarcerated.
    What if both parents want to work? It is so much easier to work outside the home than to be a stay at home parent…..too bad they forgot that love is a sacrifice and that Parenting is a sacred career. Likewise is teaching. May God bless everyone who works with or for children. Remember that life long they will repeat to themselves things you tell them. They may do the things that they watched you do. Always speak and act with love when with a child. That way, we live forever.

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