final round

With future murky, Bloomberg celebrates his last new schools

As some of the biggest news in New York City politics unfolded this morning, Mayor Bloomberg was focused on a story that hasn’t changed in more than a decade

He called a press conference to tout this year’s crop of new schools — 78 in all — at the same time as several elected officials were being arrested for trying to sell a slot on the mayoral ballot.

The 78 new schools, 26 of which are charters, represent the largest single-year total for an administration that has opened more than 650 schools since 2002. As the last new schools to open under Bloomberg, they also represent the uncertain future of the administration’s signature policies: closing low-performing schools and replacing them with new ones.

Compared to last year, when leaders from almost all of the new schools joined Bloomberg for the annual announcement, today’s press conference was relatively subdued, and Bloomberg alluded to criticism of his new school-creation spree even as he said he hoped his successor would extend it.

“Not everything has worked, but it would be wonderful if whoever comes after us continues the process,” he said, sidestepping a question about whether it would ever stop making sense to keep opening new schools. Bloomberg has attributed improvements in the city’s graduation rate to the new schools, but critics say the 50 percent increase in the number of city schools over the last decade has added cost and confusion without significant benefit.

In addition to championing small schools, Bloomberg has repeatedly pushed for more options in career and technical education. Of the 46 CTE schools that exist now, only 18 were open when his administration took office twelve years ago.

Ken Daly, president of one of the new school’s corporate partners, National Grid New York, said he hopes his company will one day employ graduates of the city’s career and technical education schools. “The hope and purpose of this partnership is that many of you can replaceu sadn become leaders in this industry,” he said.

“When I enter college, I know I will have communication skills beyond that of an average teenager,” said Camille Sanchez, a senior at the Academy for Careers in Television and Film, an existing CTE school. She said those skills came in large part from learning how to direct films.

The opening of these new schools, only three of which still need to be approved by the Panel on Education Policy, will also double the numer of six-year schools in NYC, which graduate students with a high school diploma and an associates degree.

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.