New York

Speakers set for NYC’s Senate hearing on school issues

Senator John Flanagan’s office released a final roster of speakers who will testify tomorrow at a New York State Senate hearing in New York City. 

New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch will be on the hot seat to start off the hearing, the fourth event that Flanagan convened this fall to probe the merits of sweeping policies ushered by Tisch and the State Education Department in recent years. Tisch will be joined by SED Legislative Director Nicolas Storelli-Castro. 

The next two spots go to United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and city schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, respectively. 

In all, 27 speakers are scheduled to testify. They include parents, advocates, researchers and teachers. The hearing is expected to cover a variety of issues facing schools, from state testing policies, to teacher evaluations, to privacy issues around student data. It will also include John Owens, a publishing executive who taught in a Bronx high schools for a year and wrote a book, Confessions of a Bad Teacher, about the experience.  

Tomorrow’s hearing will take place tomorrow in the Senate Hearing Room at 250 Broadway in downtown Manhattan.

Two rival advocacy groups are planning simultaneous rallies before the hearing gets started at 10:00 a.m. The first is being organized by New York City-based parent groups Class Size Matters and Change the Stakes, which have been critical of the state’s reforms. Starting at around the same time — and not too far away — will be advocates and parents from StudentsFirstNY, which lobbied for tougher state teacher evaluations, and Families for Excellent Schools, which organized a pro-charter school march across the Brooklyn Bridge earlier this month. 

Here is the list of those expected to testify tomorrow, according to Sen. Flanagan’s office: 

New York State Education Department/New York State Board of Regents
        Chancellor Merryl Tisch, New York State Board of Regents
        Nicholas – Storelli-Castro, Governmental Affairs, NYSED

United Federation of Teachers
        Michael Mulgrew, President

NYC Board of Education
      Chancellor Dennis Walcott

        Lisa Shaw
        Nancy Cauthen
        Karen Sprowal
        Jan Johnson

      Deborah Rayow, Vice-President, Core Curriculum and Credit Recovery,
        Ms. Nathalie Elivert, StudentsFirstNY
        Ms. Tenicka Boyd, StudentsFirstNY

        Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters
        Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education

        Dr. Monty Neill, Ed.D., Executive Director, FairTest
        Marco Battistella, Member of the Steering Committee of Time Out From

NYC Charter Schools
        James Merriman, CEO of the NYC Charter School Center

Student Privacy
        Sheila Kaplan

Council of School Administrators
        Ernest Logan, President
        Mark Cannizzaro, Executive Vice-President

NY Alliance for Public Education/Save Our Schools
        Tracy Pyper, Co-Chair, NY Alliance for Public Education
        Rosalie Friend, NYS Information Coordinator, Save Our Schools

        John Owens, Teacher and Author
        Fred Smith, Retired Member of NYC Department of Education, Testing
        Nicholas Lawrence, 8th Grade Teacher and Educators 4 Excellence

Special Education
        Stephen Boese, Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Association
of NYS
        Ellen McHugh, Citywide Council on Special Education

Higher Education
      Dr. Ruth Powers Silverberg, Ed.D Associate Professor, Coordinator,
      Post Master’s Advanced Certificate Program for Leadership in
      Education, College of Staten Island, CUNY

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.