New York

Pay teachers more, increase accountability, say ed "mavericks"

Ninive Calegari, John Woods, Wendy Kopp, and moderator Zack Frechette. Photo by Adam Auriemma for FishbowlNY.
Ninive Calegari, John Woods, Wendy Kopp, and moderator Zack Frechette. <em>Photo by Adam Auriemma for ##</em>

GOOD Magazine brought together three “mavericks” of the education world for a panel discussion last night.

Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America (TFA), and Nínive Calegari, CEO of literacy nonprofit 826 National and producer of a documentary film about teacher salary reform, took on the teacher-pay system:

Nínive Calegari: I’ve actually taught in a wealthy district … and so I’ve seen what a school with a good rhythm, with resources, actually looks and feels like, which is a very positive thing to have happened, but a thing that I thought was very devastating that happened was that after three years there, I got tenure, and I would have been able to play cards with the kids and it would have been very, very difficult to fire me. And I think that we have to look at the tenure issue and figure out how to make that work and how to move forward.  You know, the way that we pay teachers and the way that we design the system is antiquated and it’s time to really look at accountability.

Wendy Kopp: The key to success in any sector… number one, it’s about people. …I think it is about teachers but it’s hugely about school leaders. I mean, it’s very hard to find a high-quality school that isn’t run by a stellar principal. And it’s about superintendents and a whole bunch of other folks at the district. It’s about talent at every level.  So, first of all, developing a talent mindset, where school systems are obsessed with recruiting talented folks and developing them over time and sustaining them over time, I mean, that’s one thing. And then those people need to figure out how do we build strong cultures and good systems for accountability and continuous improvement.

Calegari thinks the key to recruiting and retaining talent in the schools is to pay much higher salaries to teachers and principals but remove union protections:

In Washington, DC — you guys have to keep an eye on what’s happening in  Washington, DC, it’s incredibly exciting — the new schools chancellor is asking for the community to pay salaries of up to $131,000, which I think is perfect, in exchange for some real accountability.

The full house at Housing Works Bookstore & Cafe burst into applause.

The third panelist, John Woods, founder of international library-building organization Room to Read, focused on the importance of educating girls in developing countries.

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.