State Opens Debate On Charter Schools Certifying Teachers

In Education, States On

Many charter schools rely on young, new teachers to staff their classrooms, and have struggled to hire enough of them, even as more schools are opened. The new rules, written by the State University of New York Charter Schools Institute, which authorizes charter operators, would let the schools it oversees design their own training programs and certify teachers, with some restrictions.

Currently, most people who become public schoolteachers in New York State graduate from a school of education and get a master’s degree.

“A need has been demonstrated, and I think all the stakeholders acknowledge that there is a teacher shortage and that it’s going to get worse,” said Joseph W. Belluck, a member of the SUNY board of trustees and the head of the charter committee that must ultimately approve the rules. “I think our job is to try to get this right.”

But significant questions have been raised about what the requirements would be. The proposal says candidates must have a minimum of 100 hours of “field experience” under the supervision of another teacher, a requirement that could be fulfilled in about two and a half weeks of school. Many education experts, along with the teachers’ unions, who are reliable foes of charter networks, have criticized the changes as making it too easy for candidates to qualify.

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