As your constituent and a supporter of quality public education, I urge you to support changes to the education law regarding teacher tenure. Chapter 56 of the Laws of 2015 included specific changes affecting teacher tenure. The probationary period was extended from three years to four for untenured teachers. The requirements were in place for educators appointed on or after July 1, 2015, and this year will be the first year these changes will impact educators in New York State. The tenure changes specifically tie the granting of tenure to a teacher's Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) rating.
A teacher seeking tenure needs to attain an effective or highly effective rating for at least three of the four years and the ratings do not need to be consecutive. However, if an educator is rated ineffective in the fourth year, they cannot receive tenure at that time. A Board of Education can agree to extend the probationary period an additional year. The law does not prohibit additional years of probationary status.
In addition, a tenured teacher in a school district or BOCES who obtains employment in another district has a three-year probationary period, provided the teacher did not receive an ineffective rating in their last year at the prior school. The change in law regarding tenure also increased the probationary period from two years to three for a tenured teacher who is appointed to a new tenure area in the same school district.
In New York, tenure protections have existed since 1897. Tenure is nothing more than the right to know charges against you; the right to see, confront and rebut evidence; the right to an impartial decision maker; the right to counsel; and the presumption of innocence until "proven guilty."
Tenure is an absolutely necessary safeguard for teachers, for students and for quality public schools. Due process means teachers can speak freely and strongly on matters of public concern, and ensures that educators have the freedom to teach effectively and the liberty to oppose policies or cuts that harm students. Educators can partner with parents against inappropriate standardized testing and question standardized testing precisely because they do not have to fear reprisals for doing so. Tenure guarantees that caring and dedicated educators can continue to advocate with parents for what is best for students.
I urge you to pass legislation before the end of this legislative session to: amend the education law to return the probationary period to three years for untenured teachers; return the probationary period to two years for a tenured teacher who is appointed to a new tenure area in the same school district; and remove the provisions that tie the granting of tenure to an educator's APPR rating. Since 2010, enrollment in teacher prep programs have dropped by more than 45 percent and new teachers are leaving the profession at a high rate in the first five years. Enacting these amendments would help ensure our state implements laws that enhance the profession and do not erode public education.
Thank you for your consideration of this very important issue. I respectfully ask that you bring up this issue with your conference and I would greatly appreciate a response to this letter.
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