Colorado

Monday Churn: ASSET bill dead

Updated 7:30 p.m. – The undocumented students tuition bill was killed this evening in the House Education Committee on a 7-6 vote, Republicans opposing and Democrats supporting.

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Senate Bill 11-126, which would create a form of resident tuition for undocumented students who meet certain requirements, is scheduled for a hearing in the House Education Committee at 1:30 this afternoon.

After being held on the calendar for weeks, the bill passed the Democratic-controlled Senate on a 20-15 party line vote last week. While many observers give the ASSET little chance in the Republican-controlled House, sponsor Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, said Friday he remains hopeful he can pick up sufficient votes in House Ed, where Republicans have a 7-6 edge. Chair Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, often votes with Democrats.

Ahead of the committee hearing, two liberal research groups on Friday released a study that concluded undocumented immigrants in Colorado pay as much in taxes as they receive in public services. See the study by the Bell Policy Center and the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.

And the activist group Padres y Jovenes Unidos was mobilizing its supporters behind SB 11-126, urging them to call House Ed members and to rally at the Capitol this afternoon.

Stateline.org, a news service that covers issues in state legislatures around the nation, has an interesting backgrounder on immigration-related bills this year.

Also today, Denver Public Schools board members will meet in a work session that includes discussion of three new innovation school proposals, all in Far Northeast Denver – Denver Center for International Studies at Ford Elementary, Rachel B. Noel Arts Academy and Denver Center for International Studies at Montbello High. As part of the proposals, teachers would work “at-will” at the schools and would receive an additional $5,000 in compensation for the year. See this letter from district staff about the proposals.

The DPS board also is expected to discuss support for two initiatives filed by state Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, to raise taxes and increase funding for K-12 and higher education. And at their regular meeting on Thursday, the DPS will be asked to approve a tentative agreement with the teachers’ union over “mutual consent” hiring provisions in the educator effectiveness law, also known as Senate Bill 10-191.

What’s on tap:

See the week’s full legislative calendar here.

MONDAY

The Denver school board has a work session scheduled at 4:30 p.m. at 900 Grant St. Agenda.

The Boulder Valley school board meets at 1 p.m., kicking off a week of interviews with three superintendent finalists. Meetings are public. Details.

TUESDAY

The Boulder Valley school board meets at 6 p.m. in the Education Center at 6500 East Arapahoe Road, Boulder. Agenda.

WEDNESDAY

The University of Colorado Board of Regents hold a special meeting starting at 9 a.m. to discuss budget items. The meeting will be at St. Cajetan’s Center on the Auraria campus.

The State Board of Education meets starting at 3 p.m. for private interviews with the two commissioner candidates.

The St. Vrain board meets at 6:30 p.m. at Educational Services Center, 395 South Pratt Parkway, Longmont. More info.

THURSDAY

Denver school board members meet at 5 p.m. at 900 Grant St. Agenda.

Jefferson County school board members meet at 5 p.m. for a work session at district headquarters, 1829 Denver West Drive, Bldg. 27, in Golden. Agenda.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Common core: A look at one of 100 New York City schools experimenting with the new curriculum standards. New York Times.

In case you missed it: Chester Finn is yawning about the State Board’s pick of finalists for the job of education commissioner. Flypaper blog. And the latest word in the Denver Post’s chronology of mayoral candidate James Mejia’s take on school reform in Far Northeast Denver.

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.

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at cbauman@chalkbeat.org.

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede