Mind Trust gets $125K donation to bolster IPS fellowships

PHOTO: Scott Elliott
F-rated School 103 became a Phalen Leadership Academy-managed school this year, launching a new "innovation school network" in IPS.

The Mind Trust’s $100,000 fellowship program aimed at helping educators develop ideas to overhaul struggling schools within Indianapolis Public Schools is getting a funding boost from a local foundation.

The Glick Fund announced last week a gift to The Mind Trust of $125,000 to help the education advocacy group recruit and support educators with creative ideas who could become future school leaders.

The Mind Trust planned to launch nine “innovation network” schools in IPS over three years. The schools would be independently run, like charter schools, but technically part of the IPS school district.

So far, The Mind Trust has awarded six fellowships. Today, only four of the ideas remain viable. Two fellowship winners, who had plans to create a public boarding school and an entrepreneurship-focused middle school, have dropped out of the program.

And Phalen Leadership Academy founder Earl Phalen announced earlier this month that his co-winner Marlon Llewellyn will no longer lead School 103 as principal this fall. School 103 will be the first innovation network school run by an outside group under contract with IPS.

Spokesman Steve Campbell said the organization still plans to create nine overhauled IPS schools, but he said it could take longer than planned. The next round of applications will open up later this year.

“It’s our intention to get them all done,” Campbell said. “That’s still the goal. The quality of the applicants will still be the determining factor.”

The Glick Fund’s contribution will support national recruitment efforts, expert coaching for fellows and community engagement support for each of the schools. It will not be used to support a specific fellow’s salary. The Mind Trust pays each of the fellows $100,000 over a year or two to develop their ideas for new strategies to improve low-scoring schools.

“The Mind Trust will use this award to directly support educators and entrepreneurs who are designing and launching groundbreaking schools in Indianapolis and giving students and families even more educational opportunities,” said David Harris, CEO of The Mind Trust.

Harris said the group was having trouble recruiting for the fellowship after news spread that the IPS school board initially voted down the first fellowship winner’s school. New school board members overturned the decision shortly after, making way for IPS’s first “innovation network” school.

Phalen and his partner Llewellyn won fellowships in The Mind Trust’s first round and were chosen to try their ideas to improve test scores at long-struggling School 103. Like the charter school, the school will use “blended learning,” which includes a mix of teacher-led learning and computer lessons.

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.