New York State United Teachers is working with the Board of Regents, the State Education Department, and lawmakers to overhaul the teacher certification process. NYSUT says that there are numerous content and computer format problems with the state's new certification exams.
The union also wants lawmakers to stop for-profit testing companies from charging student-teachers to take and sometimes retake the mandatory exams. The state does not charge the testing companies to develop and score the exams, but student-teachers must pay the companies $1,000 or more to take them.
Driving concerns about teacher certification is a grim drop in the number of college students who are pursuing careers in education, according to United University Professions, the union that represents academic and professional faculty in the SUNY system.
UUP has seen a 40-percent decline in enrollment in teacher education programs over the four-year period ending in 2013.
Fixing certification is important, but it's a nibble. The elephant in the room is the Annual Professional Performance Review, says Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association.
"Teaching has been made significantly less attractive as a career," he says. "APPR introduced fear into the profession. A lot of young people question whether public schools will even exist in the future."