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Editorial: Keep a single teaching standard

Editorial: Keep a single teaching standard

Don't create lower standard for teachers in New York
Editorial: Keep a single teaching standard
Photographer: Shutterstock

Using the logic that private charter schools should be able to set their own standards for teaching credentials, let’s apply it to other professions.

How about bus drivers? Forget requiring them to obtain a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) with a special “S” designation to drive school buses. Let’s loosen the requirements for poor districts so they can hire an adequate number of drivers. Don’t worry that they don’t have the same degree of training that certified bus drivers have. Don’t worry that they needn’t spend as much time practicing behind the wheel before they can drive our kids around our streets. We need bus drivers!

There’s a shortage of doctors and nurses in many rural communities. Let’s skip over some of the medical stuff these professionals need to know, get rid of those pesky exams they now have to pass, and put more doctors and nurses in rural hospitals.

OK, so those are safety professions. It’s not the same thing. Fine. Then how about lawyers? Poorer cities and rural areas have difficulty attracting lawyers. Let’s lower the bar, so to speak. 

Why make prospective lawyers go through all those boring classes on legal precedents and research and ethics? Why make them do internships and clerkships to learn the profession hands-on? They’ll be just as good. 

When you put it that way, it seems pretty ridiculous what a SUNY oversight committee did on Wednesday in voting to let certain high-performing charter schools certify their own teachers using a standard that’s far lower than that required for traditional public school teachers in New York.

The goal of the new lower standards is to get teachers into charter schools, particularly in poor urban districts, where they are experiencing a shortage.

Supporters say the successful charter schools that already run their own teacher training programs could handle the job of producing qualified teachers.

But there’s not even a consensus that the state’s certification standards are the problem.

Charter school teachers complain about the long hours, the high demands and the comparably low pay. Many new teachers are unwilling to work in low-income districts. And the shortage of science, technology and math teachers isn’t unique to charter schools.

If SUNY trustees approve this concept, they would effectively be creating two tiers of educator in New York.

Would the charter school-trained teachers really be just as good as state-certified teachers who meet more rigorous educational and student-teaching standards?

Maybe the current system of teacher training does make it unnecessarily challenging — financially and educationally — for some individuals to go into the teaching profession, where they could serve more at-risk students.

But for now, the current high standard is serving New York’s students well and shouldn’t be watered down for certain types of schools just to get more bodies in front of the chalkboards.

If teacher training needs to be reassessed and reconstructed, then reassess and reconstruct it for all teachers in New York state.

Don’t create a separate standard for one type of school and another for another type of school.

If this approach made sense for teaching, then it would make sense for other professions. It clearly doesn’t

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