New York

Tisch parts ways with Bloomberg on common standards, sort of

Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch disagreed with Mayor Bloomberg’s education proposals in the most agreeable way possible tonight, saying that the mayor’s call for New York to accept common national curriculum standards doesn’t go far enough.

In a speech in Washington, D.C., last week, Bloomberg called on Tisch and Steiner to ratify the common standards “as soon as possible and without material alteration.”

“As much as I respect the mayor, I have to disagree with him,” Tisch said, saying that instead, New York should adopt standards that are tougher than the national bar. “We will reserve the right to increase the rigor of the standards and be at the top of the heap and not at the bottom of the heap,” she said.

Tisch made the comment alongside state education commissioner David Steiner on a panel at Columbia University’s Teachers College. The two were there to discuss the state’s education agenda and its bid for the competitive Race to the Top fund. And while Tisch did not address Bloomberg’s other proposals to make the state more attractive to federal grantmakers, she said that the state is in a strongly competitive position now.

Tisch and Steiner also emphasized that their education plans are being developed independently of the Obama administration, and the two agendas may not entirely align.

One significant difference of opinion between federal and state priorities is in regard to the charter cap. The Obama administration has encouraged states to shed their caps. Tisch and Steiner stated again tonight, as they have before, that the cap encourages competition so that only the highest quality charters may open.

“We have not tailored our sails to the winds of Race to the Top,” Steiner said. “Where there is overlap — and there is considerable overlap — we welcome it.”

But pushing an agenda that differs significantly from federal priorities might be easier said than done in a fiscal climate that Steiner acknowledged was like a “tsunami.”

Steiner said that the state education department has already sustained an 11 percent budget cut, and this year school districts relied on $700 million in stimulus support that likely will not come again next year.

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.