Colorado

Daily Churn: Grad rates inch up

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

It’s sometimes hard to see change looking at year-to-year education data, and a longer view can show a different picture.

Colorado’s high school graduation rates rose to 76.4 percent in 2009 from 67.5 percent in 1999, according to calculations in the 2012 version of the Diplomas Count report by Education Week.

The study shows Colorado slightly ahead of the national rate for every year in the 10-year period. For 2009 the national rate was 73.4 percent, and Colorado ranked 18th in the nation. See the state report here, along with an explanation of how the study calculates graduation rates.

Each year’s Diplomas Count has a special focus, and the 2012 version examines Hispanic students.

“Nationwide improvements were driven, in large part, by impressive gains among Latino students,” the report noted.

“Because the Latino graduation rate, at 63 percent, lags substantially behind the U.S. average, this group makes up a disproportionate number of the students who do not finish high school. Of the 1.1 million members of the class of 2012 that we project will fail to graduate with a diploma, about 310,000 (or 27 percent) will be Latinos. Two states — California and Texas — will produce half the nation’s Hispanic dropouts.”

Hispanics make up 28.4 percent of Colorado school enrollment, compared to 21.5 percent nationwide.

Get links to more report documents here. There’s also a clickable map that allows you to drill down for individual school district information.

University of Northern Colorado trustees on Friday approved tuition rates for the 2012-13 academic year. Tuition for resident undergraduates enrolled in 13-16 credit hours will rise by 3 percent, or $164, to $5,464 for the year. As many state college do, UNC will use some of the additional revenue for financial aid, and Institutional financial aid for undergrads will also increase by $4.5 million. About 85 percent of UNC undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. Room and board rates will rise by 3 percent, and fees by 2 percent. More information

The trustees also had a discussion of Metro State’s recent decision to create a special class of tuition for undocumented students (see story). “The consensus was to continue keeping an eye on it,” said UNC spokesman Nate Haas.

Citizens for Jeffco Schools, the group supporting the proposed tax overrides and bond issue, wasted no time in launching its campaign Friday. The district school board acted the night before to put the measures on the November ballot. Watch video of the launch event here.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday signed the last bills from the 2012 legislature, including two education measures. One allows resident tuition for military dependents and the other requires parent consent for students to fill out school surveys. The governor didn’t veto any education bills this year. Refresh your memory about legislative action on education with our Education Bill Tracker.

What’s on tap:

WEDNESDAY

The State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education meets starting at 8:30 a.m. at the system offices, 9101 East Lowry Blvd. Agenda

The State Board of Education meets starting at 9 a.m. in the boardroom at 201 E. Colfax Ave. Up for consideration are several innovation schools applications from the Falcon school district. Agenda

THURSDAY

The Denver board will hold a special public comment meeting at 5 p.m. at district headquarters.

The Jefferson County board has a special meeting scheduled. Time not yet announced.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Tough love: Tennessee plans to convert 10 failing Nashville schools into charter schools that will serve about 5,000 students by 2020. The switchover is being overseen by the Tennessee Achievement School District, created as part of Tennessee’s response to the federal Race to the Top initiative, which authorizes charter schools and also directly runs low-performing schools. The Tennessean has the story.

What postsecondary means: There’s a lot of chatter these days about just what “postsecondary” means. Critics say reformers are just trying to push every kid into a four-year college. But what kids do after high school is more nuanced than that, and certificates are the fastest-growing form of postsecondary credentials in the nation, surpassing associate and master’s degrees as the second most common award in higher education after the B.A. The Chronicle of Higher Education has the details on a new study.

The EdNews’ Churn is a roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education, published during the summer as news warrants. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at EdNews@EdNewsColorado.org.

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