Report: Childrens’ lives and school work got better, but disparities remain

PHOTO: Alan Petersime

The 2013 report from a central Indiana group that studies child welfare statistics shows modest improvement in the education outcomes and home lives of children in Marion County.

The report is from the Central Indiana Education Alliance, formerly known as the Talent Alliance. The group is a coalition of Indianapolis-area leaders in business, government, education and non-profits aimed at producing a more educated workforce.

The group compiled Marion County data on educational outcomes and the quality of life. The results show some progress toward a better educated population but stubborn disparities continue between the results for white residents when compared with black and Hispanic residents.

When it came to education, the Alliance found:

  • Of kids who attended one of 926 Marion County preschools, only 16 percent went to one that supports children’s learning in 2012, but the number is slightly up from 14 percent the prior year.
  • Countywide, ISTEP passing rates in third and eighth grade math and English improved between 2009 and 2013. The percent passing both English and math at eighth grade has gained three consecutive years, exceeding 60 percent for the first time, but remains about 10 points below the state average. Third grade saw a slight decline from the prior year and similarly remains about 10 points below the state average of 75 percent.
  • Black and Hispanic passing rates on ISTEP both grew for the fourth straight year for all of Marion County. The passing rate for white students declined slightly but remained about 15 points higher.
  • Marion County has made significant gains in graduation rate since 2008, reaching 84 percent in 2012. The county closed the gap with the state average to 4 points below from 10 points below four years before.
  • More Marion County students graduated with the most rigorous diploma, the Honors diploma, in 2012. About 21.5 percent received the Honors diploma in 2012, up from 19.4 percent in 2009. But for the next most rigorous diploma, the Core 40, Marion County remained about 2 points below the state average at 70.5 percent. A smaller share of black and Hispanic students earned Honors diplomas that white students.
  • Just less than two-thirds of Marion County adults had not earned any sort of college degree in 2012. About 36 percent earned at least a associates degree. Disparities are evident here, too, with 42 percent of white residents holding at least a two year college degree but only 25 percent of black residents and 14 percent for Hispanics.

When it comes to quality of life factors for families, the Alliance found:

  • Median household income rose in 2012, but the gains were very small for blacks and Hispanics and big disparities remain between those groups and white Marion County residents. Both black and Hispanic median household income was under $30,000 annually while the figure for white residents was above $50,000.
  • The number of families living in poverty continued to grow slowly, reaching 16.6 percent in 2012.
  • The percent of Marion County children in poverty grew in 2012, with growth centered on impoverished children in the 11 and under age group. Overall, 33.5 percent of children in the county were impoverished, up more than 1 percentage point from 2011.
  • Unemployment dropped significantly in Marion County in from 2013 to an annual rate of 7.5 percent from 8.7 percent the prior year.

The report can be viewed at the Alliance’s website.


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.