Colorado

Colorado Commits fundraising continues to accelerate

Colorado Commits to Kids, the main committee pushing for passage of Amendment 66, on Monday reported raising an additional $1.8 million in the last two weeks, on top of the $1.6 million raised during the first two weeks of September.

The committee now has raised $5.02 million and spent a little more than $2 million, leaving some $3 million on hand as of Sept. 25, the last day covered in the reporting period.

Although the pace of fundraising has quickened, the bulk of the group’s money has come from a handful of contributors.

The National Education Association gave $1 million in the most recent period, and the Colorado Education Association gave an additional $300,000, for a total of $750,000.

The group Education Reform Now, which is affiliated with Democrats for Education reform and which also has a local committee, gave an additional $250,000 for a total of $500,000.

A new contributor in the latest period was the Rose Community Foundation, which kicked in $200,000.

Large contributions given during earlier reporting periods include $500,000 from architect and Walton Family Foundation trustee Ben Walton, $700,000 from the Gary Community Investment Co. and $650,000 from Fort Collins philanthropist and Democratic Party funder Pat Stryker. DaVita Corp. previously gave $100,000, and Kaiser Permanente Financial Services also gave $100,000.

So nine donors have provided about $4.5 million of the Colorado Commits’ $5 million total.

Other donors of note in the latest reporting period include Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort with $10,000, philanthropist and businesswoman Merle Chambers with $10,000 and state employees association Colorado WINS with $5,000. Henry Sobanet, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s budget director, chipped in $100, as did former congressman and former state higher education director David Skaggs.

Major Colorado Commits spending during the most recent reporting period include $354,747 to FieldWorks, the Washington-based consultant that has done much of the campaign’s petition circulation and canvassing work, and $106,558 to Putnam Partners of Arlington, Va., for advertising. (According to rumors circulating in campaign consultant circles, Colorado Commits has reserved TV ad spots and is about to launch its campaign, but the group hasn’t confirmed that.) The campaign also spent more than $73,000 with four printing companies.

Other committees involved in the Amendment 66 campaign reported much smaller contributions during the latest reporting period.

Coloradans for Real Education Reform, the main registered opposition committee, reported no new contributions. It has raised a total of $10,000.

The group Kids Before Unions reported no new contributions. It previously raised $7,200. (This group has shortened its name from the original – and cumbersome – Coloradans Against Unions Using Kids as Pawns.)

Among four smaller support committees, only Greeley Commits to Kids reported contributions of any size – $31.031. That included $20,000 from Hensel Phelps Construction and $5,000 from construction executive Robert Tointon of Phelps Tointon Inc.

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.