after hours

Cuomo proposes an extra $35 million for after-school programs in high-need areas

PHOTO: The Children's Aid Society
Students participate in after-school activities at the community school at P.S. 61 Francisco Oller in the Bronx.

Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $35 million pilot program on Monday that would expand access to after-school programs in some of the state’s neediest areas, including the Bronx.

The plan is one of Cuomo’s legislative proposals, which requires approval by the state’s Senate and Assembly, but sets the tone for the 2017 session. It was the governor’s second education-focused proposal this year — the first was an ambitious plan to provide free tuition at state colleges — and his first specific to K-12 education.

If approved, the plan will provide an extra 22,000 after-school seats in cities that are part of the state’s Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative. The funds would be distributed through competitive grants.

Creating more after-school seats is in line with a shift in state educational priorities that started last year when Cuomo backed an investment in “community schools” that provide resources like health clinics and tutoring. This proposal is similar, in that it tackles a subset of needy schools and focuses on wraparound services.

“This pilot program will further level the playing field for children in underserved cities across the state by expanding their access to programs and community resources that will help them get ahead in school and later on in life,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Support for community schools and after-school programs marks a departure from Cuomo’s 2015 education agenda, which upended the state’s teacher evaluation system, a move that proved unpopular with the teachers unions and many families. The resulting backlash fueled the opt-out movement and a new direction in state education policy.

Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, principal of Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters in the South Bronx, hopes to receive extra funding to expand his school’s after-school program to high school students.

For the middle school students it currently serves, he said, the program has been a game-changer. It is a place for them to participate in clubs and athletics, get extra help with their school work, and have fun.

“Extending the school day allows us to make sure that our kids are safe and know where they are,” Cardet-Hernandez said. “But it also allows us to create opportunities for enrichment programs, sometimes programs that we don’t have the budget to offer during the day.”

 

meet the candidates

These candidates are running for Detroit school board. Watch them introduce themselves.

Nine candidates are vying for two seats on Detroit's school board in November. Seven submitted photos.

One candidate tells of a childhood in a house without heat.

Another describes the two-hour commute he made to high school every day to build a future that would one day enable him to give back to Detroit.

A third says her work as a student activist inspired her to run for school board as a recent high school grad.

These candidates are among nine people vying for two seats up for grabs on Detroit’s seven-member school board on Nov. 6. That includes one incumbent and many graduates of the district.

Chalkbeat is partnering with Citizen Detroit to present a school board candidate forum Thursday, Sept. 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at IBEW Local 58, 1358 Abbott St., Detroit.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet each candidate and ask questions in a speed-dating format.

In anticipation of that event, Citizen Detroit invited each of the candidates to make a short video introducing themselves to voters. Seven candidates made videos.

Watch them here:

School safety

Report lists litany of failings over police in Chicago schools

PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Police officers stand alongside Lake Shore Drive in August as protesters decry violence and lack of investment in African-American neighborhoods and schools

The Chicago Police Department doesn’t adequately screen and train the officers it assigns to Chicago Public Schools, and their roles in schools are poorly defined, according to a sharply critical report released today by the Office of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

The report lists a litany of failings, including basic administration: There is no current agreement between the police department and the district governing the deployment of school resource officers, or SROs, and neither the schools nor the police even have a current list of the officers working in schools this year.

The inspector general’s report also mentions several sets of SRO resources and best practices created and endorsed by the federal government, then notes that Chicago hasn’t adopted any of them. “CPD’s current lack of guidance and structure for SROs amplifies community concerns and underscores the high probability that students are unnecessarily becoming involved in the criminal justice system, despite the availability of alternate solutions,” says the report.

Chalkbeat reported in August about incidents in which SROs used batons and tasers on students while intervening in routine disciplinary matters.

Scrutiny of SROs is nothing new, and is part of the broader CPD consent decree brokered this week between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. That agreement calls for better training and vetting of SROs, as well as a clearer delineation of their roles on campuses—including a prohibition against participating in routine school discipline — beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Read more: How the police consent decree could impact Chicago schools

But the report from Ferguson’s office says that the consent decree doesn’t go far enough. It chastises police for not pledging to include the community in the creation of its agreement with the school district, nor in the establishment of hiring guidelines; and for not creating a plan for evaluating SROs’ performance, among other recommendations. In addition, the report criticizes the police department for delaying the reforms until the 2019-20 school year. A draft of the inspector general’s report was given to the police department in early August in hopes that some of the issues could be resolved in time for the school year that began last week. The police department asked for an extension for its reply.