Colorado

Briefs: Adams State helps its base

Officials of Adams State University Wednesday unveiled a plan to fully cover tuition and fees for qualified low-income students from the San Luis Valley region, one of the state’s poorest areas.

EdNews Briefs logoStarting next year, qualifying students will receive sufficient financial aid to cover tuition and fees plus $1,350 a year for other educational expenses. Students can continue to receive the aid in subsequent years if they maintain satisfactory grade-point averages and meet certain course-completion requirements.

The university estimates that about 300 students, some 15 percent of the student body, will be eligible for the program. The scholarship covers graduates of 22 high schools in the region. Adams State is in Alamosa, the valley’s largest town.

Adams State’s student body is 47.5 percent minority, with Hispanic students making up 32 percent. The university is officially designated by the federal government as a Hispanic Serving Institition. Colorado has one of the nation’s largest college attendance and completion gaps between white and minority students. Closing that gap is a key policy objective for both state and institutional policymakers.

Weigh in on state’s future

TBD Colorado, the non-profit group that has been taking the public’s temperature on key issues affecting the state’s future, is reaching out again, this time seeking out online opinions from Colorado citizens.

The group is asking citizens to weigh in on highway improvements, support for transit, universal full-day kindergarten and education funding.

You can log in and join the electronic conversation at www.eTBDColorado.org. (You need to register to participate.)

Learn more about the project on the TBD website and read about the first phase of the group’s work in this EdNews story.

Lawmakers keep cards close to vests

The advocacy group Great Education Colorado, along with a coalition of other organizations, has been lobbying state lawmakers to commit to taking significant action on school funding this session.

Volunteers from the Year of the Student effort fanned out throughout the Capitol a few weeks ago to give legislators questionnaires on the issue. So far only 17 lawmakers, all Democrats, have responded. You can read their responses here.

New Legacy Foundation trustees named

The Colorado Legacy Foundation has announced four new board members, including Tom Gart of The Gart Companies, Ryan O’Shaughnessy of Wapiti Energy, Katherine Peck of the Gill Foundation and Leroy Williams of the Ball Corp. (Get more information in this news release.)

The foundation raises funds for and administers some education programs, primarily in coordination with the Department of Education.

Comcast program offers low-cost internet

Comcast this week announced enhancements to its Internet Essentials program, a two-year-old program that offers low-cost broadband service ($10/month), computers ($150) and training to low-income students and their families.

Colorado is one of the top 10 markets for Internet Essentials with more than 8,300 participants, or more than 6,100 families in the Denver metro area. However, 243,013 Colorado children qualify.

The changes mean that more households are eligible as the program now reaches home school and private school students.

Eligible families must have at least one child who qualifies for free and reduced price lunch.

For general information about Internet Essentials, visit www.internetessentials.com for English, and visit www.internetbasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at www.internetessentials.com/partner. Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855- 765-6995.

Verizon Foundation seeks school partners

The Verizon Foundation is seeking teams of teachers in 12 public schools for a multiyear program designed to enhance student achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM subjects – by leveraging mobile technologies.

Under the program, each school designated as a Verizon Innovative Learning School will receive a grant of up to $50,000 to support a technology coach and teachers as they participate in a two-year professional development program focused on increasing teacher and student proficiency with mobile technology and boosting student engagement and achievement in STEM.  The Verizon Foundation is working with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), which will provide coaches and teachers with customized onsite and online training specific to the needs and goals of each school.

The deadline for applying for the program is Monday. To learn about requirements and apply, visit http://www.verizonfoundation.org/vilssurvey/.

Breakfast Games winners announced

George Washington High School in Denver, Northridge High School in Weld County District 6 and Pueblo County High School in Pueblo County District 70 all won “gold” awards and $4,000 in the annual “Breakfast Games,” a contest sponsored by the Colorado No Kid Hungry campaign. The contest, which named two winners in each of three categories plus one additional “special mention” winner, aims to increase participation in school breakfast programs across the state.

The three gold award winners were among 24 high schools across Colorado that participated in the contest, which ran from September 2012 to January 2013. Silver award schools, which each received $2,000, include Centennial High School in Pueblo City School District, Central High School in the Mesa Valley district and Wheat Ridge High School of Jeffco Public Schools. Wasson High School in Colorado Springs District 11 won $1,000 and a special mention for achieving the highest percentage-point increase in school breakfast participation.

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