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Teacher shortage recommendations are 'flawed'

Criticism came quickly to a report by SUNY’s TeachNY Advisory Council announced Wednesday. United University Professions President Frederick Kowal quickly called the report flawed, incomplete and failing to tap the experience of SUNY education professionals who teach and mentor future teachers across the state.Kowal said the report, heralded by SUNY as a “historic partnership” between SUNY and the State Education Department, glosses over glaring problems with the state’s teacher certification exams and their impact on teacher shortages and the lack of diversity in teacher education programs. He said the study ignores recent changes implemented by the state Board of Regents and inappropriately cites reform groups such as the National Council on Teacher Quality as experts.

Kowal continued that some of the report’s recommendations directly conflict with actual experiences of SUNY teacher educators. Also missing: mentions of outstanding practices and new teacher ed developments already underway in the field.

“TeachNY is a smoke screen that bolsters the failed policy of former Commissioner John King, which SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher appears to endorse,” said Kowal. “It is insulting to SUNY’s teacher education faculty and staff, and seriously out of touch with the widespread rejection of the top-down reform agenda that has undermined the work of educators and their students.

“This report is pretentious and overreaches in an attempt to design standards for a profession that is highly regulated,” Kowal continued. “This report is one more misguided critique that is disconnected from reality.”

Kowal said that UUP and NYSUT attempted to work with SUNY on the report, but pulled away when teacher education professionals were given no real voice in vetting the council’s recommendations. The report’s findings lack a “full range of input” from council meetings, he said.