Critics of a controversial proposal to allow certain charter schools to certify their own teachers threatened legal action on Tuesday if officials vote to approve the plan at their meeting Wednesday morning.
The Alliance for Quality Education, a teachers union-backed group that fiercely opposes the proposal, claims that officials at the State University of New York would be violating state law if they approve the proposal without giving the public a chance to weigh in on changes to the proposal that were made public on Sunday.
The revisions include increasing the hours of instruction that prospective teachers must receive from 30 to 160, decreasing required hours of teaching practice from 100 to 40, and mandating that aspiring teachers pass one of the state’s certification exams or an equivalent test.
In a letter to SUNY’s Board of Trustees dated Oct. 10, AQE Executive Director Billy Easton cited a state law that says the public must be allowed to comment on “the revised text” of any rule that has undergone “substantial revision.”
“These are substantially altered regulations and many parts of them are new regulations,” Easton told Chalkbeat New York. “There is a requirement that the public have an opportunity to comment and give input.”
Easton said his group would seek an injunction from a state court to block the regulations from going to effect if they are approved Wednesday.
Joseph Belluck, chair of the SUNY’s charter schools committee, said he planned to proceed with the vote. He rejected Easton’s argument, saying the basic structure of the regulations have not changed.
“I think the letter is wrong both factually and legally and we do not think that the changes that were made require any additional comment period,” said Belluck, whose group oversees 167 schools across the state.
SUNY’s proposal has been controversial since its inception, garnering pushback from teachers unions and state education officials who say it will allow unqualified teachers to enter classrooms. Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa called the original proposal “insulting,” while State Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said fast food workers could receive more training than SUNY is proposing for its teachers.
Though prospective teachers will now have to sit for more classroom instruction — one of the most criticized aspects of the original proposal — they still will not have to earn a master’s degree or pass all the state certification exams that most prospective teachers must.