Colorado

Monday Churn: CU loses gun case

Updated 9 a.m. – A unanimous Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that a state law on carrying of concealed weapons does apply to the University of Colorado and that the university can’t ban the carrying of such weapons.

A university ban was challenged by a group named Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. The university argued that the statewide law didn’t apply to it, an interpretation rejected earlier by the Colorado Court of Appeals and by the high court in the opinion issued today.

The student group also appealed CU’s ban on constitutional grounds. The court didn’t rule on that issue, determining that the concealed-carry law was sufficient to govern CU.

Republican legislators are pushing House Bill 12-1092, which would allow people otherwise entitled to own guns to carry then concealed without obtaining a separate concealed weapon permit. That bill, if passed, would apply to college campuses but not allowing carrying of weapons on school grounds. The measure is pending in the House.

Read the opinion here, and get background in this EdNews story.

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

The full legislature may make the final decision on each year’s state budget, but lawmakers accept the vast majority of recommendations made by the six-member Joint Budget Committee.

On the committee’s agenda for today are three important decisions about education funding: How much base funding to provide to school districts in 2012-13, the amount of support for state colleges and universities next year and whether to give the Department of Education money to start developing a new state testing system.

The panel considered the first two issues last week but put off decisions.

Despite committee hand-wringing, the panel doesn’t really have much room to maneuver on K-12 and higher ed funding.

Factors beyond in the JBC are in play with school finance, like the annual school finance act (a separate bill from the main state budget) and the simmering political question of whether to continue suspension of a senior citizen property tax break.

Without going into the brain-freezing details, the bottom line for school districts is that the best they can expect is the same amount of money in 2012-13 as this year. That, of course, will be an effective cut, because enrollment is expected to grow statewide.

For state colleges and universities, a $30 million cut in state aid (down to about $489 million) is expected. That’s what the executive branch recommended, and that probably won’t change no matter how much the JBC agonizes over the details of how to make the reduction.

Perhaps more interesting is the question of the Department of Education’s request for $25.9 million to build a new state testing system, a request not supported by the Hickenlooper administration. Look for the committee to perhaps support spending of about $7 million to pay for development of tests in subjects that won’t be included in multi-state tests expected to be available in 2015.

All three issues are on today’s committee agenda. We’ll see if it makes a decision or puts things off for a few more days. Reaching agreement is sometimes tough for the panel, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.

What’s on tap:

Check this week’s full legislative calendar, as of March 2.

TODAY

Five state education groups are convening to help school districts as they implement Colorado’s landmark educator effectiveness law. Titled “Colorado Educator Effectiveness Summit: 191 to Action,” the one-day event runs from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Westin Hotel, 10600 Westminster Blvd., Westminster. The groups are the Colorado Association of School Boards, the Colorado Association of School Executives, the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado Education Association and the Colorado Legacy Foundation.

Denver Public Schools’ board finance and audit committee meets from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 900 Grant St. Agenda items include a $1.6 million contract with Generation Schools Network for turnaround work at West High School, one of Colorado’s lowest-performing high schools. The contract is for five years beginning with 2012-13.

TUESDAY

The new Colorado Collaborative for Girls in STEM holds its first information meeting from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Skyline High School, 600 E. Mountain Valley Ave. in Longmont. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the effort is intended to enable collaboration within the public and private sectors to bring more underserved girls and women into STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – fields. Learn more.

Douglas County school board members meet at 5 p.m. and recess into closed session for two hours, reconvening in public at 7 p.m. at 620 Wilcox St. Agenda items include a presentation by principals about the proposal changing high school schedules for 2012-13, including requiring teachers to teach an additional class, and the second quarter 2011-12 financial report.

WEDNESDAY

The State Board of Education meets starting at 9 a.m. in the boardroom at 201 E. Colfax Ave. Agenda items include a charter school appeal involving Life Skills High School v. DPS, several DPS innovation applications and a briefing on the proposed rules for teacher evaluation appeals under Senate Bill 10-191. Agenda

Adams 12 Five Star school board members meet at 5:15 p.m. for  a public work session and then begin their regular meeting at 7 p.m. at 1500 E. 128th Ave. Agenda items include public comment and decisions on possible dismissal of two teachers.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Principal turnover: A lot of education reform initiatives are based on the idea of principals as instructional leaders, motivating and monitoring their teachers to improve student achievement. A new study by the Rand Corp. finds that about 20 percent of new principals within a year or two, leaving behind a school that generally continues on a downward academic slide. Our partners at EdWeek have the story.

Jobs and education mismatch: If you haven’t read this yet, this March 1 New York Times story takes a look at colleges cutting classes in fields highly sought after by employers in attempts to save money. Among the examples is Colorado’s own Fort Lewis College, which has eliminated its computer science major.  The story provides an overview of “the states’ 25-year withdrawal from higher education.”

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at EdNews@EdNewsColorado.org.

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