poll watch 2013

Bushwick voters say they're with de Blasio on all but charters

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Matt Simons said he sees a role for charter schools but is happy that Bill de Blasio doesn’t want to focus on them.

Like most New Yorkers who are heading to the polls today, voters this morning in Bushwick said they were supporting Democrat Bill de Blasio, even if they don’t agree with all of his education positions.

Ingrid Declet, 46, whose granddaughter is in second grade at a charter school in Bushwick, said she agreed with de Blasio on most issues — but not his desire to rein in charter schools.

“I don’t think he should take away charter schools,” she said, adding that her granddaughter’s school offers dance, music, and Spanish classes in addition to the core academic subjects. “I think they’re doing a little better than regular schools.”

(De Blasio has not said he would work to close any charter schools in the city. But some charter school advocates have portrayed his plan to charge rent to charter schools that use space in public school buildings as an existential threat.)

Matt Simons, whose 4-year-old daughter rode her scooter beside him into the polling site, said that while charter schools “serve a good purpose,” he had been happy to see de Blasio fix his attention on district schools.

“The focus should be on local schools and making sure they have enough money to run their classrooms,” said Simons, 44, who added that de Blasio’s bid to charge rent to charter schools in public buildings “seems fair.”

Wynn, a Bushwick resident in the entertainment industry who declined to give his last name, said that he had benefitted from pre-kindergarten when he was a child, and so backed de Blasio’s plan to fund universal pre-K by taxing wealthy residents.

“I’m in a higher-income bracket myself,” he said. “But I still think that’s fair.”

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Ingrid Declet

Rosa Carchipulla, 42, a city bus driver, said she was eager for de Blasio to guarantee school bus drivers the job protections that Bloomberg had not guaranteed, which led to a strike earlier this year.

“I have to pray,” she said, after parking her empty bus to run inside a polling site to vote.

Charles Johnson, a coordinator at a polling cite on Himrod Street in Bushwich, said he voted for a ballot measure that would permit seven new casinos in New York, whose tax revenues could funnel $94 million to the city’s schools, according to an estimate by the State Budget Office. But he added that he is skeptical that lawmakers would deliver all the promised funds to the school system.

“They’re milking the people for their money, but using it for their benefit,”said Johnson, 63, adding that “seeing is believing” when it comes to school funding.

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.