next big thing

Momentum growing for new 'core' standards and their architect

David Coleman presenting to principals. View his talk here.

A couple of weekends ago, with temperatures climbing toward 90 degrees, 1,400 school administrators stuffed into a non-air conditioned high school auditorium and listened to education officials talk policy.

“Energetic” isn’t the first thing that springs to mind from that scene, but that’s just how Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and other attending principals characterized it yesterday.

“The energy in that room was off the chart. Truly off the chart,” Walcott said on NY1 last night. He and principals had described the event in similar terms at a press conference earlier in the day.

So what exactly went on inside Brooklyn Technical High School during the June 4 conference for principals?

Besides a virtuoso performance by an all-freshman string quartet to welcome the audience, much of the excitement surrounded a presentation by David Coleman, a charismatic and self-effacing speaker who helped write the new academic standards being rolled out by the Department of Education.

Coleman, a public school product who attended P.S. 41, I.S. 70 and Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, is the founder and CEO of Student Achievement Partners, LLC, a kind-of think tank of education leaders to improve student achievement. His standards, known as Common Core, have been adopted by 48 states and he spends much of his time promoting them in speeches to principals and administrators. A video of a presentation he made in April has been shown during teacher training sessions in schools across the city.

Coleman joined the DOE’s chief academic officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky, and education consultant Charlotte Danielson at the conference to form a trio of heavyweights whose vision will help steer education policy in New York City over the next several years. The city is using Danielson’s “Framework for Teaching” to guide its new teaching standards.

Coleman’s presentation touched on Common Core’s specific demands, such as a deeper focus on just a couple of math topics per school year and a greater emphasis on informational text readings versus literary text. Students, he said, should be able to “read like a detective and write like an investigative reporter” if they are proficient in Common Core standards.

Watch the whole thing here.

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.