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Reprising 2012 rally, charter advocates planning march for Oct. 8

Success Academy Charter Network CEO Eva Moskowitz greeted students at a 2012 rally at City Hall. Another rally, this time a march across the Brooklyn Bridge
Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz greeted students at a 2012 rally at City Hall. Another rally, a march across the Brooklyn Bridge, is planned for Oct. 8, Moskowitz told parents over the weekend.

New York City charter school advocates are planning a reprise of their 2012 rally that drew thousands of parents, students, and teachers to City Hall.

That rally was spearheaded in large part by Success Academy Charter Schools CEO Eva Moskowitz — to the chagrin of some charter school advocates — and aimed to show the city that the sector is a potent political force.

Over the weekend, Moskowitz told the parents of her network’s 4,600 students that they should plan to attend another rally Oct. 8, weeks before the city’s mayoral election. Parents “must” plan to accompany their children to a march across the Brooklyn Bridge that will replace the first half of the school day, Moskowitz explained in an email message, which GothamSchools obtained.

“Your child’s education is threatened. Our very existence is threatened. Opponents want to take away our funding and our facilities,” she wrote. “These attacks are a real danger — we cannot stand idly by.”

Democratic mayoral frontrunner Bill de Blasio has vowed to start charging rent to charter schools that occupy space in public school buildings. He has also called out Moskowitz specifically as receiving special treatment in getting public space from the Bloomberg administration. (Joe Lhota, the Republican candidate, would expand the charter sector.)

“There is no way in hell that Eva Moskowitz should get free rent, okay?” de Blasio said in June. “There are charters that are much, much better endowed in terms of resources than the public sector ever hoped to be. It is insult to injury to give them free rent. They should have to pay rent. They have the money.”

Moskowitz has been a divisive figure in more than just politics. Most city charter schools did not take part in the 2012 event, with some charter advocates citing her involvement as a reason for sitting the rally out. Instead, Success and the city’s other large charter networks supplied almost all of the participants.

Moskowitz’s full message to parents is below. We’ll have more on the rally, including about who plans to attend, soon.

From: donotreply@successacademies.org <donotreply@successacademies.org>
Date: Sat, Sep 21, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Subject: Message from Eva Moskowitz: Parent March October 8
To:

Dear Parents,

Your child’s education is threatened.  Our very existence is threatened.  Opponents want to take away our funding and our facilities.  These attacks are a real danger — we cannot stand idly by.

This is an outrage: There are hundreds of empty classrooms all across New York City, and more than 1,000 district schools share space without a complaint.  Yet our opponents want to penalize our success — and are proposing legislation to do so.

These issues are tremendously important.  If we lose ground – literally, if we lose access to public space – we cannot fulfill our commitment to you and your scholar.

Which is why you – you and your scholar, your friends and relatives –  must join us on Tuesday, October 8 to march with other charter parents across the Brooklyn Bridge.

What: Parent March across the Brooklyn Bridge in support of charter schools and parent choice!

When: Tuesday, October 8, 7:30am-11:00am.  Buses will pick you and your scholar up from school at morning arrival, and you will be dropped off at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn. We will delay the start of school until after the march.

Where: The march will start in Cadman Plaza, go across the Brooklyn Bridge, and end in City Hall Park (Downtown Manhattan).  All families will then take a subway back to school after the march to drop off scholars for the rest of the school day.

Don’t let opponents of ed reform steal your children’s future.  This is about your child, your choice.  Your voice must be heard.  We must show public officials that parents will fight for the right to choose excellent schools.

Warmly,
Eva
___
Eva Moskowitz
Founder and CEO
Success Academy Charter Schools

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.

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at cbauman@chalkbeat.org.

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede