Every Child Deserves a Well-Prepared Teacher

SUNY Board of Trustees

Sign our letter to the SUNY Board of Trustees asking them to make sure that every New York student is taught by a professionally trained teacher.

To: SUNY Board of Trustees
From: [Your Name]

We the undersigned New Yorkers are deeply concerned about the hastily introduced proposal​ that would allow adults with minimal training to be certified to teach in charter schools. It is deeply troubling that the SUNY charter committee believes that our state's most vulnerable students should be taught by adults who are not professionally prepared.

The two-tier system that would be created would further the already inequitable treatment of children in our state. As New York State increases its public school teacher requirements though the TEACH NY initiative supported by the SUNY Board, the lowering of standards for charter school teachers is morally troubling.

Many of our charter schools, including those approved by SUNY, have come under scrutiny for practices that are questionable at best, and discriminatory at worst. These include regimented behavioral student-management systems, public ripping up of student work that is "imperfect," "got to go" lists , exclusion of students with disabilities, extreme and cruel disciplinary practices, excessive test prep, and the pushing out of students who are non-compliant.

The thought that young teachers would experience only the above in their training and practice is truly chilling. They would not be exposed to courses in developmental psychology, multiple intelligences, educational research and the needs of students with disabilities to name just a few of the critical areas taught in university teacher training programs. Their student teaching experience would take place only in a charter school. Their understanding of what good instruction is would be limited to what they observe in their particular charter school setting.

We understand that it has become increasingly difficult for charter schools to attract and retain teachers. They already have the ability to allow 30% of their staff to be uncertified. The solution, however, is not to lower certification standards even more, but for charter schools to retain teachers by improving working conditions. In other words, it is incumbent upon charter schools to reflect on their own practices and create environments that attract teachers and inspire them to commit to the school. Such changes would be in the best interest of charter school students, as opposed to a fast-track certification that produces unprepared and unqualified teachers.

We hope that you give our concerns serious thought and that you abandon this poorly conceived proposal. ALL students--especially poor students of color-- deserve qualified, professionally trained teachers.