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On Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 60 education activists united in Saratoga to tell the SUNY Board of Trustees that all students deserve highly qualified teachers. The protest came about as a result of a proposal to alter teacher certification requirements for charter schools, requiring only 30 hours of hands-on classroom experience, and another 100 hours of observations. Charter schools would be able to design their own training plans for certifying their teachers, a problem considering that profit potential might incentivize shoddy requirements, and that charter schools are well known for their lack of transparency and lack of cooperation with state authorities.

The change in certification requirements would, in essence, create a two-tier system that would say that one child is entitled to a highly certified teacher, and another child is not. Given that charter schools set up in areas with high poverty rates and families of color, those communities would be impacted the most. Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) stated that the harm to struggling communities would not be acceptable. Brown v. the Board of Education demanded that every student receive an equal education. The change being proposed would reverse Brown by guaranteeing that separate and unequal quality of teachers would be acceptable. Andy Pallotta, President of NYSUT, asked for "social justice for all students."

Some of the RC 10 members who attended the event included Jane Weihe, Dennis Bouchard, Vince Pelliccia, and Tony McCann. They joined NYSUT officials, active teachers, retirees from other regions, nurses, and members of CSEA, Citizen Action, Working Family Party, Alliance for Quality Education and others.

Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education, spoke to the SUNY Board for the group. Calling the plan  "unconscionable,"  he presented the trustees with a letter signed by 40 community groups including the NY NAACP and other civil rights organizations.

NYS Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia and Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa wrote a letter to the SUNY Board in opposition to the proposed downgrading of regulations. You can read the letter here: http://rc10.ny.aft.org/sites/default/files/article_pdf_files/2017-09/memo__comments_to_proposed_suny_teacher_certification_regulations.pdf. (Suggestion! Use the address information in their letter to send your own.)

More meetings on this topic are upcoming, and there will be an opportunity for public comment. Watch this website for more information. Visit our album of this event at http://rc10.ny.aft.org/rc-10-joins-protest-e-z-teacher-certification-charters.