Thursday Churn: Start-date study

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Denver Public Schools is launching a “Start Date” task force to examine whether the district should establish a new start date for the school year.

This follows an unusually hot beginning to the current school year, when record-high temperatures – and many older schools without air-conditioning – saw several students seek treatment for heat-related illnesses in August. New schools started this year on Aug. 10, while most remaining DPS schools started Aug. 18.

A task force of about 20 people will meet four times through the month of December, with the first meeting set for 5:30 p.m. tonight at DPS headquarters, 900 Grant St.

“There has been lots of discussion this school year about potential solutions to the problems posed when Denver experiences unusually high temperatures in late August,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg. “One of those proposed solutions has been to move back the start of school. We are open to that idea.”

Community input is welcome, Boasberg said, and will contribute to any calendar decisions made by the DPS board. The task force is slated to report to the board in mid-December.

Additionally, the task force will launch a survey the week of Nov. 7, which will also be used to gather public opinion on the subject. It will be available on the district’s website and its Facebook page. Parents, principals, teachers and community members are encouraged to participate.

After tonight’s task force session, the remaining meetings are scheduled for Nov. 2, Nov. 30 and Dec. 7. All meetings are scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Colorado educators who are wrestling with implementation of the Senate Bill 10-191 educator evaluation system aren’t alone in that task.

A new study, “State of the States,” surveys the national landscape and finds a wave of change across the U.S.

Some factoids from the executive summary:

  • Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have made some sort of change in teacher evaluation policies in the last three years.
  • In 2009 just 15 states required annual teacher evaluations. Now 24 states and D.C. require yearly reviews.
  • Today 23 states require use of student growth or value-added measures in evaluations, up from 15 two years ago.

The report was done by the National Council on Teacher Quality, which supports improved evaluation systems and use of value-added data. Read full report

Legislation is a messy business, and it sometimes takes time for the dust to settle and the details of lawmakers’ work to become clear. A legislative study committee approved a proposed overhaul of state laws on school discipline at an Oct. 18 meeting (read story), but the convoluted amendment process was hard to follow. Staff members of the Legislative Task Force to Study School Discipline have compiled a clean copy of the amended bill, and you can read it here.

What’s on tap:

Gov. John Hickenlooper and two other top officials will discuss the administration’s early literacy initiatives this morning during a Denver meeting on “Why Literacy Matters,” sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and education Commissioner Robert Hammond are also on the bill. EdNews will be covering the invitation-only event and have a report later in the day.

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.