in brief

The city’s opt-out movement, by the numbers

PHOTO: Nell Gluckman
Parents held a press conference to announce that students from 33 schools will be opting out of statewide standardized tests in 2013.

The number of city students who declined to take the state tests reached an all-time high this year, officials said Wednesday, and new data from the city offers the most in-depth look yet into the small but growing movement.

In just two years, its numbers have jumped from just over 350 students to more than 7,900, with a presence in most parts of the city. That amounted to 1.8 percent of city students opting out of the math tests and 1.4 percent in reading — far smaller than the 20 percent of students who opted out statewide.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of exactly where students opted out:

Top schools

  • P.S. 146 in Brooklyn – 298 students in English, 295 in math
  • P.S. 321 William Penn – 243 in English, 250 in math
  • P.S. 261 Philip Livingston – 230 in English, 243 in math
  • Brooklyn Secondary School for Collaborative Studies – 234 in English, 235 in math
  • Academy of Arts and Letters in Brooklyn – 182 in English, 197 in math
  • Institute for Collaborative Education – 170 in English, 171 in math
  • Earth School – 104 in English, 105 in math
  • Neighborhood School – 93 in English, 99 in math
  • Riverdale Avenue Community School – 89 in English, 88 in math
  • P.S. 29 John M. Harrigan – 77 in English, 79 in math

Top districts

  • Brooklyn’s District 15  – 1,452 students in English, 1,659 in math
  • Manhattan’s District 1 – 364 in English, 374 in math
  • Staten Island, District 31 – 209 in English, 451 in math
  • Manhattan’s District 2 – 250 in English, 366 in math
  • Brooklyn’s District 13 – 269 in English, 309 in math

By borough

  • Brooklyn: 1,970 students in English, 2,405 in math
  • Manhattan: 957 in English, 1,153 in math
  • Queens: 473 in English, 824 in math
  • Bronx: 300 in English, 599 in math
  • Staten Island: 209 in English, 451 in math

Looking for more on the city’s 2015 state test results? Start here, then check out the schools that saw their average scores change the most and an analysis of the opt-out movement’s growth.

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.