The Daily Churn: Friday

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Ramon Cortines, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, is in Denver today for a talk titled “How L.A. Unified is Moving Forward: Public release of teacher performance, parental control, new school operators.” Seating for the Hot Lunch talk sponsored by the Donnell-Kay and Piton foundations is full but, as always, we’ll have a story and video. We’re guessing a good deal of discussion will focus on the Los Angeles Times’ decision to create a database rating teachers by their students’ progress on tests and the aftermath for LAUSD.  But there’s plenty of other hot issues to talk about, from California’s parent-trigger law to the LA school board’s approval of the Public School Choice Resolution, allowing outsiders – from charters to the teachers’ union – to bid to run schools.  Then there’s the fact that budget cuts have pushed back the start of school from Sept. 2 to Sept. 13. Is it any wonder Cortines, who turned 78 in July, has announced plans to retire?

Meanwhile, an attempt to recall Denver school board member Andrea Merida was rejected Thursday by the city’s Elections Division. See the rejection letter here. “We did reject that particular submission but all that means is they can clear up the deficiencies and resubmit” the petition, said division spokesman Alton Dillard. Dillard’s office occasionally fields phone calls from citizens curious about how to recall a DPS board member, particularly after a controversial decision such as the vote to close Manual High School for a year. But actually getting a recall effort underway would be unusual. See the Denver Post story here and there’s a good debate on about the effort as well.

Don’t spend that Edujobs money yet. That was the message K-12 leaders got this week from state budget director Todd Saliman and CDE finance expert Vody Herrmann. Saliman told K-12 lobbyists at a meeting that the state’s September revenue forecast may be worse than the June forecast, raising the possibility of mid-year K-12 cuts to keep the state budget in balance. Herrmann sent the same message in an e-mail to district budget officials.

Colorado was formally awarded $159.5 million in federal Edujobs money last week (see release). The U.S. Department of Education is urging states and school districts to spend the money this school year to save educator jobs. But the legislation creating the program gives districts until September 2012 to actually spend the money, so rather than restore job cuts made earlier, Colorado districts could use the money to backfill cuts this year or save for an even rainier day in 2011-12. (See list of Edujobs allocations by district.)

A weak September revenue forecast also could be bad news for the state’s colleges and universities, whose leaders are trying to hold the line on further cuts (see story). The September forecasts from legislative and executive branch economists will be released Sept. 20.

What’s the best way to count kids? That’s the question a new state study committee hopes to answer. Created by the 2010 legislature, the committee is supposed to study the average daily membership method of counting district enrollments. State aid to schools currently is based partly on enrollment counts taken every Oct. 1. Critics feel that once-a-year method creates a perverse incentive for districts to slack off on retaining students, especially at-risk kids, once students are counted in the autumn.

Some school districts get nervous about the idea of changing count methods for fear it could mean loss of state support. The Colorado Children’s Campaign this week released a briefing paper on the count issue – you can read it here.

Good reads from elsewhere:

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.