Colorado

State releases final R2T plan summary

Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien is leading the state's Race to the Top effort.

Colorado officials have released the latest summary of their plan to win the national Race to the Top, including a map of school districts signing on to participate.

The summary, in the form of a 22-slide Powerpoint, provides brief details of what would occur if the state wins some of the $4.3 billion prize in the federal grant competition.

States must submit their applications by Jan. 19. Each application must address four areas – standards and assessment, data systems, great teachers and leaders, and support for struggling schools.

Colorado’s summary bullets short descriptors under each of those areas, including:

  • Creation of the Colorado Center for Educator Excellence, a non-profit charged with researching teacher performance measured by student growth and disseminating best practices.
  • Creation of the Educator Effectiveness Office, a state-level office to provide technical assistance to school districts in developing and implementing new educator evaluation and effectiveness management systems.
  • Identify, develop and implement high-quality evaluation systems in all participating school districts without such systems by 2012-13; each district would receive two staffers to implement the system and to provide extensive training and support to teachers and principals.
  • Teach for America would expand the size of its Colorado corps to more than 800 teachers and allow access to its tools for using student growth data to evaluate teacher effectiveness. (The Atlantic wrote about this.)
  • State would identify a select group of highly effective teachers on the basis of student growth data and award $10,000 grants to each teacher and a matching grant to their schools to incentivize the use of their classrooms as models for other educators.
  • Creation of the Colorado Turnaround Center, a non-profit overseen by the state that would build the supply of school operators, share knowledge about successful strategies and mobilize supports for children in failing schools.
  • Creation of an integrated statewide data system that links information about students from preschool into college, using data from sources such as the Department of Education, Department of Higher Education, Human Services and Corrections.

As of Thursday, 118 school districts representing 90 percent of Colorado’s K-12 students have committed to participating if the state is successful in its Race to the Top effort, state officials said.

That includes districts, such as Douglas County, Aurora, Boulder and Greeley, where school boards have signed agreements to participate.

It also includes districts where leaders have verbally indicated they will sign on.  Adams Five-Star school board members are expected to vote on the R2T agreement Saturday, for example, while school boards in Denver and Cherry Creek are expected to vote Monday on their participation agreements.

Click here to see a copy of the state’s full Race to the Top plan summary. State officials have said they will not publicly release the actual application until after the Jan. 19 deadline because R2T is so competitive.

Nina Lopez, special assistant to Education Commissioner Dwight Jones, said the summary is expected to be the last released prior to the deadline. Friday, Lopez said some revisions may be made as the state’s application undergoes a final editing but substantial changes are not expected.

Click on this link to see previous Ed News stories about R2T and other stimulus funds.

Nancy Mitchell can be reached at nmitchell@pebc.org or 303-478-4573.

 

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

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.