dollars and cents

Weingarten says CFE is a dream "deferred but not denied"

Some advocates are saying that the state budget betrays the hard-won Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement, which declared the city schools need more money.

But union president Randi Weingarten, a supporter of the case and the groups that filed it, is taking a different point of view. In a statement she just released, she declares that the state budget “reaffirms Albany’s commitment” to the lawsuit. The Campaign for Fiscal Equity, she says, “was deferred but not denied.”

The state budget erases two years of increases in funding that would have grown to more than $5 billion by 2011, postponing them until the future. Only 37.5% of the funds promised over a four-year period have been doled out so far. The Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s executive director, Geri Palast, has repeatedly said that state lawmakers should give the city a “down payment” of funds for next year.

Here’s her full statement:

Given the severe economic conditions facing our state, this budget in many ways has been a story of survival. Protecting children’s educational services is and always has been our top priority. That is why we fought so hard for the federal stimulus funding and the progressive income tax, both of which helped the Governor and the State Legislature deliver a budget that protects schools, health care and the most vulnerable in the wake of a $ 16 billion deficit.

The kids in New York City could have suffered terribly, but thanks to the efforts of many, we have averted the most serious anticipated damage. We will see cuts to programs, but core services should be salvaged and layoffs should be averted.

The new budget also reaffirms Albany’s commitment to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which was deferred but not denied, and it rejects a Tier V, which would have been a step in the wrong direction for working families all across the state. In addition, it restores funding for Teacher Centers, which are integral to the training and retaining of quality classroom teachers, and adds much stronger class size accountability language.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Paterson, Speaker Silver and Majority Leader Smith for standing tall for our teachers and public schools. They recognize, just as President Obama does, the importance of keeping people working and keeping the economy moving.

I also want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for his advocacy on behalf of public schools, as well as the State Legislature, the City Council and, most of all, the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who attended our rallies and helped fight for their neighborhood schools.

If this were a marathon, however, we still have the hardest part of the race ahead of us. The city is still facing a deficit and schools still face cutbacks. We must work with our allies in New York City, and hopefully the Mayor and the City Council will continue the momentum and protect against direct service cuts to kids.

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.