Tuesday Churn: Decision day

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

The Legislature Council, a group of House and Senate leaders that handles statehouse administrative matters, meets this afternoon to pass judgment on bills that have been proposed by over-the-summer study committees.

That list includes five education-related bills proposed by two committees.

Here’s the rundown:

The Educational Success Task Force has proposed four bills, the most interesting of which would require all high school students to take the Accuplacer test at least once between 9th and 12 grades. Committee website with links to bill texts, text of Accuplacer bill & previous EdNews’ coverage.

The Legislative Task Force to Study School Discipline has recommended a single bill, a measure that would overhaul state law on school disciplinary measures in an effort to reduce use of expulsions, out-of-school suspensions and police referrals. Committee website & bill text

Legislative Council members can reject bills if a majority feels they are outside the scope of a particular study committee’s assignment. Most bills are approved and sent on to the next session of the legislature, but surprises can happen. Even if the committee rejects a bill, an individual legislator is free to introduce it, but in that case it counts against the five-bill limit for individual lawmakers.

The meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. in room 0112 in the Capitol basement.

The Independence Institute asserts in a press release that its new study finds “More than seven out of eight local Colorado K-12 agencies do not fully comply with a 2010 state law requiring online financial transparency.”

Devan Crean and Ben DeGrow of the free market-oriented group surveyed district websites to assess compliance with House Bill 10-1036, whose provisions went into effect this year.

The text of the study notes, however, “Lack of compliance may be explained in part by the challenge of interpreting the law itself.”

The study also found, “The larger the school district, the more likely it is to be in compliance. Twelve of Colorado’s 20 largest districts — those with 10,000 or more enrolled students — make up half of the districts fully compliant with 2011 transparency requirements. The other eight are almost compliant.”

Asked about the report, Jane Urschel, deputy executive director of the Colorado Association of School Boards, noted, “There are 30 districts where the superintendents are doubling as the principal. Five years ago, it was two or three where that was the case. I think this is what is happening – many districts are trying to make choices in choosing the highest priorities for use of their time. They aren’t ignoring the law intentionally.”

Read the full report here. It includes district-by-district ratings and suggestions for changes in state law.

Update: On Nov. 10 the Independence Institute posted a correction on its website regarding erroneous information in the report about the Elizabeth and Mapleton districts.

A new study of charter management organizations is out from Mathematica Policy Research and the Center for Reinventing Public Education.

EdWeek reports that the study “finds overall that their middle school students’ test scores in reading, mathematics, science, and social studies aren’t significantly better than those of students in regular public schools.” Read story.

According to the organizations’ news release, “The report highlights a range of organizational models and educational strategies that produce achievement effects that are more often positive than negative, but that vary substantially among CMOs.” The report “also finds that high-performing CMOs tend to emphasize school-wide behavior policies and intensive teacher coaching.”

You can see the news release here and download the report here.

What’s on tap:

The governor’s Education Leadership Council meets from 9 a.m. to noon at the carriage house of the Governor’s Mansion. Agenda

The Legislature Audit Committee will consider requests for new audits, including an audit of online education programs. That’s scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

Legislative Council meets at 1:30 p.m. in room 0112 of the Capitol to consider bills approved by study committees, including several of interest to education. Agenda

The Denver school board’s finance and audit committee meets from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m at 900 Grant St. The agenda includes approval of the district’s contract with Pepsi and a request to amend all charter school Facility Use Agreements to specify why a charter’s FUA may be terminated.

Aurora school board members meet at 6 p.m. at 1085 Peoria St. The agenda includes a brief swearing-in ceremony for new board members and an hour-long workshop on the district’s strategic plan, VISTA 2015.

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

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.