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The New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia and the President of the State University of New York Nancy Zimpher announced a plan to recruit more teachers. The teacher educators at SUNY immediately blasted the proposal.m as deeply flawed.
The elements of the plan are not especially original. Recruit more teachers of color. Internships in schools. Career ladder. Etc.
The problem with the plan is that it does not address the root causes of the teacher shortage. The root causes are state and federal policies that discourage and demoralize teachers.
Nothing was said about eliminating the edTPA or making it optional; the test has a disparate impact on teachers of color and is opposed by many who prepare teachers.
Nothing is said about the other tests for future teachers that have a disparate impact on teachers of color.
Nothing is said about the state’s teacher evaluation system, based on test scores, which is unreliable, unstable, and invalid. In the case of Sheri Lederman, decided recently, the judge tossed out her evaluation because of its inaccuracy. Many teachers are leaving the profession because of this system.
Nothing is said about the nonstop testing and test prep that demoralizes teachers and wastes instructional time.
Elia and Zimpher are trying to fix a major problem while ignoring the root causes. That won’t work.
The union that represents the faculty and staff of SUNY released the following statement:
“A report by SUNY’s TeachNY Advisory Council on teacher education is flawed, incomplete and fails to tap the experience of SUNY education professionals who teach and mentor future teachers across the state, according to United University Professions President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D.
“The report, heralded by SUNY as a “historic partnership” between SUNY and the State Education Department, glosses over glaring problems with the state’s teacher certification exams and their impact on teacher shortages and the lack of diversity in teacher ed programs. The study ignores recent changes implemented by the state Board of Regents and inappropriately cites reform groups such as the National Council on Teacher Quality as experts.
“Some of the report’s recommendations directly conflict with actual experiences of SUNY teacher educators. Also missing: mentions of outstanding practices and new teacher ed developments already underway in the field.
“TeachNY is a smoke screen that bolsters the failed policy of former Commissioner John King, which SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher appears to endorse,” said Kowal. “It is insulting to SUNY’s teacher education faculty and staff, and seriously out of touch with the widespread rejection of the top-down reform agenda that has undermined the work of educators and their students.
“This report is pretentious and overreaches in an attempt to design standards for a profession that is highly regulated,” Kowal continued. “This report is one more misguided critique that is disconnected from reality.”
“Kowal said that UUP and NYSUT attempted to work with SUNY on the report, but pulled away when teacher education professionals were given no real voice in vetting the council’s recommendations. The report’s findings lack a “full range of input” from council meetings, he said.
“In March 29 and May 6 letters to Chancellor Zimpher, Kowal and NYSUT President Karen E. Magee requested that UUP and NYSUT be removed from the report.
“We cannot and will not endorse a report that is so flawed and one-sided, yet purports to be a legitimate collaboration between SUNY leadership and teacher educators,” said Kowal. “As written, this study goes out of its way to avoid the professional expertise and actual experiences of teacher educators, while thwarting attempts by our members to address real issues that need fixing.”
“UUPs’ many concerns with the study include:
A failure to acknowledge recent Board of Regents actions to extend teacher certification exam safety nets for the third year in a row and the need to address problems that led to the extensions;
Problems with SUNY’s promotion of a 3.0 GPA admission requirement for undergraduate and graduate teacher ed programs, and failure to analyze the potential barrier this requirement creates for underrepresented and disadvantaged students who have the potential to develop and excel with appropriate mentoring and support;
A failure to discuss problems with the state’s flawed teacher certification process and how the process has impacted declining teacher ed program enrollments;
The lack of focus on diversity in the teaching force and the need to recruit underrepresented groups into the teaching profession;
Legitimizing reform groups such as the NCTQ by citing them as experts when they command little respect among education professionals;
Supporting Simulating Teaching as a way to expand clinical experiences for student teachers even though there is no research to back the program’s effectiveness, while neglecting to analyze current obstacles to expansion of actual clinical experiences;
Accepting the state’s flawed Annual Professional Performance Review system without regard to recent Board of Regents implementation changes; and
Advocating for expansion of private alternatives to public education, a complex subject that requires far more extensive analysis than the TeachNY study.
“Hopefully, the chancellor will see the error of her ways and we can work together to produce a viable, workable report that takes a 360-degree view of this important issue,” Kowal said.”