acceleration celebration

Officials fete students in city's newest early college programs

Joining State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (center) are four students from Bard Early College High School (from left: Daphney Sanchez, Aishah Scott, Dwight Hodgson, and Lenina Mortimer). Behind them is Martha Olson, Dean of Administration.

Students taking part in new early college high school programs got a glimpse of their future yesterday at Long Island University’s Kumbel Theater and liked what they saw.

Staring back up at them were four success stories who graduated from one of the city’s first early college schools, Bard High School Early College in Manhattan: an admissions coordinator, a doctoral candidate in political science, a bioengineering student, and a multimedia producer.

“It’s one of those things that doesn’t make sense to you right now and that’s fine,” said Dwight Hodgson, who started at BHSEC when it opened in 2001. He is now back at his high school as an admission coordinator. “But there’s going to come a time very shortly where you’re going to sit back and say, ‘Wow, that was a life-changing experience.'”

Hodgson was speaking to new students in four early college programs crafted in BHSEC’s mold as part of the Smart Scholars Early College High School program, a state initiative to bolster partnerships between high schools and colleges.

Bard and City Polytechnic High School of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology, which has a relationship with New York City College of Technology, became the city’s first Smart Scholars schools in 2010 and this year they were joined by three other schools: Boys and Girls High School (with L.I.U.), Medgar Evers College Preparatory School (with Medgar Evers College), and Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH, (with NYC College of Technology).

Each school is getting more than $400,000 from the state and the Gates Foundation, which provided the original Smart Scholars grant in 2009. The Smart Scholars initiative aims to bring the early college model, in which students take college courses while they’re still enrolled in high school, to low-income and minority students.

Yesterday, elected officials, members of the Board of Regents, and State Education Commissioner John King attended a celebration at Kumbel Theater to recognize the new additions to the Smart Scholars portfolio. With the additions, there are now 16 New York City schools offering an early college model.

At the event, speakers continually told current students to take advantage of the opportunity given to them.

“I don’t completely understand it right now,” said Aeon Williams, a Poly Tech student. “But I’m sure I’ll be grateful and appreciate what I did for myself.”

After the event, current students were invited down to speak with elected officials and alumni of the early college high school programs.

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.