The Daily Churn: Friday

Updated 2:30 p.m.: Three people have removed themselves from consideration for state education commissioner, should Dwight Jones take the job of Las Vegas schools superintendent. They didn’t volunteer the info – we asked them. They are Harrison District 2 Superintendent Mike Miles, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg – “No, I remain totally committed to and invigorated by my job” – and Aurora Public Schools Superintendent John Barry – “I have committed to being the superintendent in Aurora Public Schools for five to ten years so I am not a candidate for commissioner should the position become available.”

Meanwhile, the Colorado League of Charter Schools has sent out a Facebook message about Monday’s Oprah Winfrey show, which will feature the documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman.’ ” According to League spokeswoman Stacy Rivera, “As part of the show, Oprah will make a surprise announcement about DSST,” also known as the Denver School of Science and Technology. It’s set to air at 4 p.m. Monday on KCNC Ch. 4. The documentary by Davis Guggenheim, who directed “An Inconvenient Truth,” is getting lots of attention, including its very own “anti” Facebook page, NOT waiting for Superman.

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What’s churning:

News that Education Commissioner Dwight Jones is one of three finalists for the Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas) superintendent’s job has the gossip mill spinning at full speed. As always seems to be the case in such situations, possible candidates aren’t saying publicly that they are interested in the job. But that doesn’t keep people from speculating.

One name mentioned frequently is Lieutenant Gov. Barbara O’Brien. She isn’t talking, other than to praise Jones effusively. Other names: Mike Miles, superintendent of Harrison School District 2. Miles told EdNews flat-out that he isn’t interested. Also, Denver Superintendent Tom Boasberg (he said he’s not interested – “I remain totally committed to and invigorated by my job.”) and Aurora Superintendent John Barry (also saying no – “I have committed to being the superintendent in Aurora Public Schools for five to ten years so I am not a candidate for commissioner should the position become available.”)

But the fantasy candidate for many education reformers gathered this week for a conference in Aspen is Washington D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Her boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty, lost a primary this week, and so Rhee is probably out within the next few months. She is marrying Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, and her parents live in Colorado. So a move west might be appealing. At this point, though, Rhee as commissioner remains wild speculation.

Meanwhile, you can read what the Las Vegas newspapers are saying about Jones here and here.

Gubernatorial candidates John Hickenlooper and Don Maes debated education and children’s issues today at a session organized by our partners at 9News, along with the Colorado Children’s Campaign and The Children’s Hospital. Both candidates agreed there’s little immediate likelihood of tax increases to support schools. Third-party candidate Tom Tancredo was invited to the event but canceled. Go here to read the 9News story and view video clips.

In case you missed it, the Colorado Children’s Campaign on Thursday issued a news release calling attention to the rising poverty rate among children statewide, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Also, Aurora Public Schools is publicly listing where some of its EduJobs money is going. On its website, the district on Thursday posted a list of new positions funded through the dollars, by position and by school. They include 21 teachers and classroom assistants at ten schools. We applaud the financial transparency.

What’s on tap

The State Council on Educator Effectiveness meets today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the board room at the Department of Education, 201 E. Colfax Ave. The agenda is 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.