At a December 7 Brooklyn town hall meeting on teacher preparation and the high-stakes exams required for certification, professors of educations shared research and anecdotal accounts of how New York State introduced expensive tests and videotaping requirements in 2013 that narrowed curriculum and made student-teaching difficult. These hardships particularly hurt student-teachers of color, those of lower incomes, and speakers of languages other than English, making the pool of certified teachers less diverse. Regents Kathleen Cashin and Charles Bendit, co-chairs of the Regents Higher Education Committee, hosted the event held at St. Francis College, as part of their effort to hear educators and students from across New York State.
More than 100 people attended, including four regents and State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and her staff. Professor David Gerwin of Queens College organized and moderated the event, which included panelists from CUNY, SUNY New Paltz, Teachers College/Columbia University, and Hofstra, followed by an open forum featuring student teachers, cooperating teachers and other educators. Speakers criticized Pearson, the for-profit educational testing company, as well as former New York State Commissioner of Education John B. King, Jr. (now the acting Secretary of Education in the Obama cabinet) for introducing the exams with no period of transition. Speakers also warned about the new state-imposed GRE and GPA requirements for admission to education graduate programs.
“The PSC continues to work closely with New York State United Teachers, our state affiliate, as well as with United University Professions, the SUNY faculty and staff union, and several regents who share our concerns,” said Steve London, the PSC-CUNY university-wide officer who took part in the town hall.