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Charter Schools in New York Can Now Certify Their Own Teachers

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Some charter schools in New York state will soon be allowed to train and certify their own teachers, a move that is drawing criticism from some of the state's top education officials.

This is likely the first time a charter school authorizer has allowed the schools it oversees to certify their own teachers, according to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

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The State University of New York Charter Schools Committee approved on Wednesday what has become a controversial proposal for the schools it oversees. SUNY is one of four entites in the state allowed to grant charters.

Under the new rules, prospective teachers are required to receive 160 hours of instruction plus 40 hours of classroom practice. A typical certification pathway in New York requires a year of coursework, reports the Wall Street Journal. Aspiring teachers on the new charter certification track will also not be required to earn a master's degree, nor will they have to take all of the state teacher certification exams, according to Chalkbeat.

But charter schools will have to meet certain performance benchmarks to apply to have the right to certify their own teachers. 

The state's teachers' unions staunchly opposed the move, as have some of New York's top education officials.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and a Board of Regents Chancellor Bety Rosa put out a joint statement decrying SUNY's decision.

"This change lowers standards and will allow inexperienced and unqualified individuals to teach those children that are most in need - students of color, those who are economically disadvantaged, and students with disabilities - in SUNY-authorized charter schools," they said.

Charter school leaders have said they need more flexibility in onboarding teachers in the face of staffing shortages. 

This plan only applies to SUNY-authorized charter schools. The New York State United Teachers and its New York City affiliate, the United Federation of Teachers, have filed a lawsuit to block the new rules.

This post has been updated to say that the city and state's teachers' union have filed a lawsuit.

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