Teachers Unions Sue Charter Schools over Certification Standards


Representatives of the United Federation of Teachers filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court Thursday against the Charter Schools Committee, accusing them of lowering certification standards for teachers.

According to a report issued by the UFT, SUNY Charter Schools are cutting down hours of instruction in teaching skills, from “250 hours of instruction” to “about 150 hours,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

Charter schools will also provide only a week of practice instruction, and only one certification exam. Under these new regulations, charter schools “do not require a candidate to have completed a bachelor’s degree,” said the report.

Mulgrew argued that teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree and/or a master’s degree, as well as extensive supervised teaching experiences.

“This is a disgrace to our state’s education system,” said NYSUT President Andrew Pallotta.

Some charter school supporters say that a shortage of teachers necessitates reducing certification standard. But the UFT counters that 40 percent of charter school teachers quit, making it difficult to “maintain the required percentage of fully certified teachers on their faculties.”

“It’s not easy to become a fully certified teacher in New York, nor should it be,” said Mulgrew in the report. “All our kids deserve to be taught by teachers who have gone through a rigorous process, but the Charter Schools Committee has just approved a measure that would toss these standards aside for charters, all because some charter schools have trouble meeting them.”

Meanwhile, on the steps of City Hall, Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz said called the lawsuit unfair because “students of color” often don’t get the proper teaching  because of the teacher shortage. “It’s unfortunate that they’re taking this away from them,” she said.

UFT representatives contend that the new certifications would deprive students of the education they need.

“It’s despicable what the charter schools did,” said Pallotta. “It’s about the children.”

Photo of Andrew Pallotta (r) and Michael Mulgrew by Jamie Deliz

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