off topic

Geoffrey Canada draws the line at taking money from rappers

The Harlem Children’s Zone was just forced to cut 10% of its staff, but CEO Geoffrey Canada says he won’t change his standards about how to replenish the money he is losing from Wall Street donors. For one thing, he will take no donations from rappers, ever.

That’s what he told NY1’s Dominic Carter last night on “Inside City Hall,” after Carter got distressed about the cuts and tried to think of alternate sources of income.

“That’s like taking money from the tobacco industry,” Canada said.

Canada was appearing on the show to promote his new group, Learn NY, which is pushing Albany to renew mayoral control of the city’s public schools. But for 22 minutes, Canada talked not about the problem of school boards, but a list of others: a materialist culture that is a “road to destruction” for children, the “abysmal” state of community colleges, and why kids walk with their pants hanging down (it’s an export from the jail system, where belts are banned).

Then, with less than 10 minutes left in the show, like a movie star on a late-night show who at the last minute remembers he has to promote his film, Canada started talking about mayoral control. Whoops! Out of necessity, he made his argument succinct.

The reason the mayor should control the schools, Canada said, is that it forces him to sweat the test scores:

You know, every night when my test scores come out, I’m up all night. I can’t sleep. Oh God those kids, they better perform, because I know I’m in the papers! … Why shouldn’t the mayor be thinking about the kids of New York City the same way?

He also addressed concerns that he is leading the political effort to renew mayoral control because Mayor Bloomberg has given him money — about $500,000, the New York Times reported. He said he understands people’s skepticism:

Everybody says, “Oh but didn’t he give you some money? And isn’t that why you’re doing it?” Well, I think it’s the right question, and everyone has the right to ask, “Do you believe in this or is this simply because the mayor has anonymously given you money, and that’s why you’re standing up for it?”

But he concluded, “This has nothing to do with any donation the mayor would or would not give. And, by the way, when I don’t agree with the mayor, I’m happy to say that I don’t agree with him.” For an example, check out what Canada said at an education forum just last month.

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.