New York

Welcome to Chalkbeat New York, your new home for education news

Dear readers,

You might have noticed some changes around here. After more than five years as GothamSchools, we have changed our name to Chalkbeat New York — the latest step in our efforts to serve you the most relevant news about education policy and practice in the loveliest possible package.

Since first announcing the creation of the Chalkbeat network a year ago, we’ve opened bureaus in Tennessee and Indiana, grown our staff in New York, and launched a morning newsletter. (Please subscribe if you haven’t already.) Now, we’ve also redesigned our website to improve your reading experience.

NY.Chalkbeat.org is pretty different from the small-but-mighty blog we launched in 2008. You can still look at all of our content in one place in the Chalkbeat Wire, but you can also see the biggest news of the moment at the top of our homepage. We’ve also built tools to help you understand the context behind the stories you read: You can now look for “The Backstory” beside articles or navigate by narrative rather than by date. And we’re publishing detailed guides about the big issues in New York City schools, from the Common Core standards to teacher evaluation to the new goal of “college and career readiness.” More Chalkbeat Explains guides are coming soon.

All of the enhancements join the features that you know and love: We will continue to bring you regular news, analysis, informed commentary, and our daily Rise & Shine roundup of New York City school news. (That will always be at the top right of our homepage.) We won’t end the day with Remainders anymore, but we will continue to point out interesting links through our What We’re Reading feature, and we’ll also keep planning offline events to build community around our coverage. (Next up: a happy hour on Jan. 16.)

All of this comes at an exciting period of change for the city’s schools. A new administration has signaled that it wants to make big changes to the largest school system in the country. We plan to cover the rhetoric, action, and inaction and keep policymakers and education professionals accountable.

To do that, we have selected three areas of focus that each of our reporters will cover deeply for the year: implementation of the Common Core, admissions and enrollment, and teacher evaluations. We’ve chosen these focus areas because they are areas of dynamic — or potentially dynamic — change that matter to many people who interact with the city’s schools every day and have implications for educational improvement efforts far beyond New York City.

Our stories will be strongest if we get your help. Here are a few ways to pitch in:

First, meet our community editor, Emma Sokoloff-Rubin, who will be creating more opportunities for you to interact with our reporters, share your experiences, and help deepen our coverage of public schools. To start, please consider submitting to our First Person section, which highlights the experiences of teachers, administrators, students, policymakers, and parents. To find out more or pitch an idea, email Emma.

Another way to share your experiences and thoughts with us is through our comments section. Here is a look at our new comments policy, which we will be enforcing thoroughly with the help of our engagement director, Anika Anand. We want Chalkbeat New York to be a place where educators, policymakers, and families can come to voice their concerns, talk to one another and ultimately, act in a way that leads to better schools for everyone. So please, be courteous and respectful in your comments so that we can all learn something from each other.

Here are some other ways to stay up to date on our reporting and help us make our reporting the best it can be:

And, of course, come back daily to read and weigh in on our latest stories. Thanks for your help and happy reading,

Philissa Cramer, Chalkbeat New York bureau chief

Elizabeth Green, Chalkbeat editor-in-chief

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.