New York

Charter school advocates cautiously congratulate Mayor-elect de Blasio election

Charter school supporters who quietly backed Bill de Blasio’s mayoral bid despite de Blasio’s stances on charter schools are treading cautiously this morning.

In statements, leading charter school advocates say they are looking forward to working with de Blasio and are confident that he will not go through with any policy changes that would adversely affect the sector. De Blasio has said he would charge rent to some charter schools that occupy space in public school buildings and has said the city does not need more charter schools to open.

Here’s what New York City Charter School Center CEO James Merriman said: 

We congratulate Mayor-Elect de Blasio on a resounding victory. His message of uniting all New Yorkers clearly resonated with voters.  As campaigning now shifts to governing, there is no better place to make good on that promise than by improving public education,which we know the Mayor-Elect will work tirelessly on.New York City’s charter schools, some of which are among the city’s best public schools, offer clear examples of how to deliver a high quality education to all students—so much so that currently 50,000 families are on wait lists to enroll their children in one. We stand ready and willing to work with the next administration and our district counterparts to promote policies that help great public schools, both district and charter, to flourish, as well as offer meaningful support to those that continue to struggle.

And here’s what National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Nina Rees said:

I’d like to congratulate Mayor-elect de Blasio on his victory this evening. In the coming weeks and months as he develops his plans for New York City schools, I urge him to consider the vital role public charter schools play in educating some of the city’s most vulnerable students. As reports continue to show, charter schools are responsible for significant gains in academic achievement and help prepare students for college and career. Important lessons can be drawn from the practices of high-quality charter schools and shared with the broader public school system to help improve student learning. 

Public charter schools are an important addition to New York City’s public school landscape, and the children and families that attend them are counting on their mayor to ensure these schools remain available. I encourage Mayor-elect de Blasio to ensure that public charter schools receive the same access to school buildings as all other public schools.

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.