The Mind Trust unveils $5,000 incentive for nominating future school leaders

PHOTO: Hayleigh Colombo

Do you know someone with a good idea who’d love to turn around a troubled school in Indianapolis?

Nominating them for a school leadership fellowship could net you $5,000.

The Indianapolis-based education advocacy group The Mind Trust, which runs a school innovation incubator program in conjunction with Indianapolis Public Schools, announced Wednesday the launch of a new incentive program with the cash incentive for people whose nominees are eventually selected by the organization for its $100,000 innovation school fellowship program.

The Mind Trust President David Harris said the goal is to catch the attention of people who may know great leaders but who aren’t being otherwise reached. A similar effort has been employed by KIPP, a national charter school group.

“Our experience with all three of our incubators is that virtually all people apply within the last few hours before the deadline,” Harris said. “So we don’t know how many people will apply this year or who. We saw that KIPP offered a similar incentive, and we thought, if there is any chance it could produce a high quality candidate, it would be worth doing.  We continue to do everything we can to reach as many prospective candidates as possible.”

School leaders whose ideas are chosen by the district use IPS resources to run their schools but operate independently, outside of the teacher’s union agreement. They receive up to two years of planning time to launch and develop their ideas and receive help from The Mind Trust along the way.

The first year of the fellowship program got off to a rocky start with some IPS school board members, who resisted the idea because of the selection process used to choose the leaders. The school board defeated the first innovation school concept at its December meeting.

The decision to pass on Earl Phalen and Marlon Llewellyn’s idea to create a Phalen Leadership Academy within IPS may not stand, as two of the three board members who voted no lost their seats in last month’s election. Their replacements are expected to be more supportive.

Two other fellows — an intelligence analyst who hopes to create an entrepreneurship-based program and an Indianapolis Public Schools principal who envisions a boarding school concept — are still working on their ideas.

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.