Tuesday Churn: Grant to aid literacy

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia today helped unveil a two-year, $3.6 million grant to Mile High United Way for literacy programs.

The grant, from the Corporation for National and Community Service, will be used to give funding to organizations throughout the state that will provide literacy programs. The corporation is a federal agency that supports such efforts as Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America.

The corporation actually announced the grant on Aug. 4. It’s one of five being awarded across the country.

Mile High United Way will give grants to “programs that leverage community volunteers to collectively improve third-grade literacy rates by 25 percent in up to 15 rural and urban areas across Colorado, serving an estimated 2,000 students per year,” according to the corporation’s news release.

The governor and lieutenant governor have made improving third-grade reading scores, implementing the educator effectiveness law and increasing college completion rates their top education priorities. See EdNews story

The state Department of Education, under a process launched before Hickenlooper was elected, is working on regulations to implement Senate Bill 10-191, the landmark educator effectiveness law. The department recently announced districts that will participate in the first pilot test of parts of those regulations.

On the college completion front, the state recently received a $1 million grant to improve remedial education for entering college students. See EdNews story

Another Hickenlooper education initiative, creation of an Education Leadership Council, is still in the works. Announced on the governor’s first day in office last January, the council’s membership still hasn’t been decided.

Today’s 11:45 a.m. event to unveil the grant to United Way was at Denver’s Harrington Elementary School, 2401 E. 37th Ave. Also attending the event were Christine Benero, executive director of Mile High United Way, and Paul Carttar, social innovation fund director for the corporation.

On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Garcia will be in the news again when he’s expected to testify as a defense witness in the Lobato v. State school-funding lawsuit.

The suit, which challenges the state school finance system as unconstitutional, has the backing of a substantial number of school districts and education groups.

But according to a disclosure filed by the attorney general’s office before the trial started, “The lieutenant governor may testify that while financial resources are necessary in the delivery of quality education opportunities, other factors also impact the successful delivery of quality education opportunities to K-12 students, such as effective classroom teachers and school building leaders. The lieutenant governor may also testify that additional funding for K-12 education does not necessarily equate to improved quality education opportunities, and that additional money alone may not close achievement gaps or increase graduation rates.

“He may testify that, even so, the current budgetary limitations on K-12 funding must not excuse districts from delivering quality education opportunities to Colorado’s school children.”

What’s on tap:

Aurora school board members meet in closed session at 5 p.m. for legal advice regarding a personnel matter and then in public at 6 p.m. at district headquarters, 1085 Peoria St. The board’s public agenda includes votes on compensation agreements with teachers, administrators and other staff – essentially, no raises for anyone.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Why are Finland’s schools successful? – An article in the September 2011 issue of Smithsonian magazine looks at what America can learn from a country with few standardized tests, state subsidies for parents, a powerful teachers’ union, education funding about 30 percent less per pupil — and enviable rankings on international reading, math and science exams.


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.