Keep 'em coming (updated)

Bloomberg says this year's test scores call for more charters

(Credit: WOR)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this morning that the test scores announced this week, which showed charter schools had out-paced district schools, are proof enough why the city should be expanding charters.

“There’s a reason people want to send their children to charter schools,” he said during his weekly morning appearance on the John Gambling radio show.

The average proficiency rate for charter schools students improved 7 percentage points on the state reading tests and 3.5 percentage points on math. The city’s district schools also improved but at a slower pace.

Bloomberg blamed the teachers union contract for the districts schools’ inability to duplicate the success of privately-managed charter schools, which have longer days and greater flexibility in hiring decisions.

But instead of making points about issues such as teacher tenure or seniority-based layoff laws, Bloomberg invoked more salacious news items.

“The union keeps protecting people that shouldn’t be in the classroom that touch, have sex, whatever it may be,” he said. “It embarrasses other teachers.”
He said that more charter schools, which are usually non-union, were one of the answers to circumventing the union contract. There are 136 charter schools currently open in New York City, with 24 more on the way next year. Soon, more than ten percent of the city’s public school population will be enrolled in the privately-managed schools.

United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew said the mayor’s comments are, at this point, quotidian.

“He just can’t get over the fact that he has been wrong on so many issues — from closing schools to test scores — in what was supposed to be his administration’s legacy,” Mulgrew said in an e-mail.

Bloomberg also touted the 24 so-called turnaround schools that were poised to replace half of their staff next year until an arbitrator ruled in court that the city would not be able to carry out the reforms. The city is appealing the arbitrator’s decision and is due back in court next week. He said this year’s score bear out the fact that struggling schools serve their students better post-turnaround, although he said they still aren’t as high performing as he would like.

Bloomberg said he was optimistic that the judge would rule in favor in the city.

One of the only groups whose proficiency did not improve on the state tests was students who are still learning the English language. But Bloomberg said those numbers weren’t as bleak as they might seem. He reasoned that many of last year’s English language learners improved their English enough that they were no longer classified as such in student demographics.

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.