By Eliza Shapiro and Keshia Clukey | 10/12/2017 10:00 AM EDT
SUNY APPROVES CHARTER CERTIFICATION OVERHAUL — POLITICO New York's Eliza Shapiro: New York City's charter schools were granted enormous freedom to certify their own teachers on Wednesday, when the SUNY Board of Trustees Charter Schools Committee approved a hotly contested proposal allowing some charters to create their own, in-house teacher certification programs. The regulation has prompted a significant backlash from teachers, union leaders, New York's top education officials and the leaders of the state's schools of education, who have argued that the new rule will allow unqualified teachers to flood the city's charters, which educate overwhelmingly poor and minority students. Four of the five SUNY trustees voted to approve the regulation, including the board's newest member, former Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. One trustee, Eric Corngold, voted against the proposal. Wednesday's vote was years in the making.
The city's charter networks have long relied on young and inexperienced teachers — often on two-year, Teach for America contracts — to staff their growing networks. Charter network chiefs have been plagued by high turnover among teachers who burn out after a few years in the classroom or move on to higher-paying jobs outside of education. Certification woes have also left some of the city's most powerful charter networks vulnerable to legal trouble. Earlier this year, POLITICO reported that officials at Success Academy privately acknowledged being out of compliance with state laws mandating a certain threshold of certified teachers in every school. Charter leaders, led by Success CEO Eva Moskowitz, have spent years pushing the SUNY board and charter-friendly legislators in Albany to come up with a solution to the problem of certification. Versions of the new certification rules have failed during state budget negotiations over the last few years. Kiah Hufane, a former Success principal who now manages the network's recruitment, spoke at Wednesday's meeting about the "massive teacher shortage" that charters are experiencing. "This is an urgent and extremely heartbreaking problem," she said.
Shael Polakow-Suransky, the president of the Bank Street College of Education and a longtime supporter of charters, said this week that the revised proposal goes against the recommendations of education experts across the country. "Seven days of classroom practice is a joke," the former top Bloomberg education official said. Suransky emphasized that he believes charters can have alternative routes to certification. "There are really interesting models around the country of charter networks that have built teacher residency-like programs where candidates spend a year as an assistant teacher," he said. "It feels like this proposal has been constructed without any attention to what we know about how aspiring teachers learn and develop." Dirck Roosevelt, a professor at Columbia University's Teachers College, who is more critical of charters than Suransky, said the updated proposal was still "teacher education lite." Read more here.
— MaryEllen Elia and Betty Rosa respond: "With the adoption of the latest proposal, the Committee ignored our concerns and those of many others in education. ... 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."
— The UFT and NYSUT will announce their lawsuit against SUNY later today in Manhattan. Before Wednesday's vote, UFT president Michael Mulgrew said the unions would sue the board.
GOOD THURSDAY MORNING. Bill de Blasio and Carmen Fariña will make an announcement about 3-K for All in Queens. StudentsFirst and Families for Excellent Schools will each hold press conferences in Manhattan. The United Federation of Teachers and New York State United Teachers will file a lawsuit against SUNY's teacher certification regulations for charters. The New York State School Boards Association and New York State Association of School Attorneys will host the 21st Annual Pre-Convention School Law Seminar in Lake Placid. MaryEllen Elia and Betty Rosa did not release public schedules.
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TUNE IN: UAlbany president Havidán Rodríguez, who is settling into the new role, will discuss his priorities and goals for the university with WCNY's Susan Arbetter on "The Capitol Pressroom" at 11 a.m. Listen in here.
UNIONS SPEND DARK MONEY IN THE CONVENTION DEBATE — POLITICO New York's Bill Mahoney: Activists who believe the state should hold a constitutional convention are outspending those opposed to the idea, according to campaign filings submitted to the state Board of Elections in recent days. .... But the filings tell only a small portion of the story. There's clear evidence that much more money has been spent than has been identified in campaign finance reports, and that most of this undisclosed spending has gone to benefit the convention's opponents. Read more here.
COMING UP: The governor's office and SUNY will host a college readiness event starting at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Wolferts Roost in Albany. Dan Fuller, state assistant secretary for education, will moderate a panel. Read more and register here.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Give AP credit where credit is due: More and more students in New York City's public schools are taking, and passing, the tough Advanced Placement exams. Kudos to Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña, and, of course, to educators and kids, for a push that's clearly paying off." — The New York Daily News editorial board with some relatively rare praise for the mayor. Read more here.
STAT OF THE DAY: "The number of homeless students in the Rochester City School District has shot up since 2011, an increase mostly attributable to the youngest children." — Democrat and Chronicle's Justin Murphy. Read more here.
EDUCATION BILL TRACKER: The Assembly sent 42 bills to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk Wednesday. The education-related bills included: a bill related to authorizing a study of the economic impact of public libraries; a bill related to a pilot program providing a tax credit for universal visitability; a bill related to a sepsis awareness, prevention and education program; a bill that provides aid for blind or deaf students in relation to the purchase and use of supports for the education of students who are blind, deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing; and a bill that changes from six one-hundredths to five one-hundredths, the portion of a school districts' general fund expenditures that a penalty for late final cost reports must exceed for such penalty to be recoverable.
EAST RAMAPO MAKING PROGRESS — POLITICO New York's Keshia Clukey: Rockland County's troubled East Ramapo school district is making academic and fiscal progress, according to a Wednesday report from the district and its team of state-appointed monitors. "With increased education opportunities, improved learning environments and better fiscal oversight, the district is addressing long-standing problems to help all students succeed," state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in a press release. Read more here and read the report here.
AROUND NEW YORK:
— "An upstate university moved Wednesday to revoke an honorary degree it bestowed on film mogul Harvey Weinstein over his alleged abuse and harassment of women." — New York Daily News' Glenn Blain. Read more here.
— "Suffolk County Community College President Shaun McKay has been hospitalized after he was stricken while speaking to about 400 faculty and staff Tuesday at the Brentwood Campus." — Newsday's Rick Brand. Read more here.
— "SUNY Polytechnic Institute's much maligned film hub outside of Syracuse has never paid rent on the $15 million building since it opened in 2015, according to a lawsuit filed by the landlord seeking nearly $1 million in unpaid obligations." — Times Union's Larry Rulison. Read more here.
— How one of Westchester's lowest performing schools turned around its test scores. — Journal News' Colleen Wilson. Read more here.
ACROSS THE RIVER:
— "[T]hose pressing for more awareness about how best to teach students with dyslexia got some good news recently. First, the state Department of Education released a long-awaited handbook of guidance and resources on dyslexia for schools and parents. ... Then came ... Gov. Chris Christie's signing of a resolution declaring October to be Dyslexia Awareness Month." — NJ Spotlight's John Mooney. Read more here.
AROUND THE NATION:
— Federal immigration officials are still processing an influx of renewal applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program , DHS spokesman David Lapan said at a press briefing Wednesday. As of today, the department had received applications from 132,000 people — roughly 86 percent of those eligible for renewal. The Trump administration announced in September that it would phase out the program, which offers work permits to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age. As part of the wind-down, the administration allowed 154,000 people with enrollment that expires between Sept. 5 and March 5 to apply for a two-year renewal. DHS continues to tabulate the number of renewal applications, which were due on Oct. 5. At the press briefing, Lapan fielded questions about whether federal immigration officials had sent mailings to DACA enrollees to notify them of the details around the policy change. "It would be very hard to believe that that people who are in DACA didn't hear the news about what was happening with DACA," he said, adding that he would check with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services about the mailings. — POLITICO's Ted Hesson
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