speed test

John King: Common Core accountability is not new for students

State Education Commissioner John King speaks with students today during a physics class at Brooklyn's Pathways in Technology Early College High School.

Speaking at a Brooklyn school today, State Education Commissioner John King offered a spirited defense of the state’s decision to roll out end-of-year exams that are tied to new standards with unprecedented speed.

Of the 46 states that have adopted the new standards, known as the Common Core, New York is the first to tie its tests to them. And while the state is also the only one to develop accompanying curriculum materials, it won’t cover all of the standards until the end of 2013.

Last week, UFT President Michael Mulgrew criticized the state for requiring students to take exams based on the standards before giving teachers a full curriculum based on them.

“Millions of students will be tested on a curriculum that was never supplied to their teachers,” Mulgrew told Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education reform commission a week ago. “[This is] a storm that is headed right at us.”

But King suggested today that focusing on the challenges that teachers are facing is misguided. For students, he said, the tests are coming not too early but too late:

Students are already accountable for the Common Core because when they arrive on a college campus or when they arrive as a first-year employee, they are responsible for those skills. The gap has been that our K-12 system hasn’t been equipping all students with those skills. When you look at the remediation rates … for the community colleges, it’s clear, kids are already accountable for the Common Core, and their families are already accountable for the Common Core, because those remedial classes are essentially high school classes at college prices.

King made the comments during a visit to Pathways in Technology Early College High School, a Brooklyn school in its second year that will ultimately allow students to graduate with an associate’s degree. This afternoon, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited the school as well, joined by Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. The city plans to open two other schools in the mold in 2013.

The barrage of visits preceded “From Classroom to Career: Investing in Tomorrow’s Workforce,” a panel discussion this afternoon at Hunter College’s public policy institute. The discussion was sponsored in part by IBM, P-Tech’s corporate partner. IBM supplies mentors and internship experiences to P-Tech’s students, and it is filling a similar role for a P-Tech-inspired school in Chicago.

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.