Local control used as excuse

What should Colorado do to improve teacher effectiveness and win the Race to the Top? First, stop using local control as an excuse to justify inertia.

“To make this work, no one can use local control as an excuse not to do what is required,” argue the authors of a report released this week by the Colorado Legacy Foundation.

In compiling the 23-page report, titled “Teacher and School Leader Effectiveness: Designing a Framework for Colorado,” Paul Teske and others at the Center for Education Policy Analysis interviewed six of the nation’s leading experts on teacher and leader effectiveness.

They then applied the experts’ thinking to current Colorado policy and practice to shape a series of recommendations for how the state can improve its teacher corps and win a chunk of the $4.3 billion in the federal Race to the Top grant competition.

Among the recommendations, most of which call for a greater state role:

  • A state assessment team should be formed to assist districts in developing and appropriately using measures of student growth, required by Race to the Top to be the predominant measure for evaluating educator and system performance.
  • Colorado should consider joining other states interested in developing a “national teacher entry level credential” to make it easier for good teachers to come here, particularly since about one-half of Colorado teachers are prepared out-of-state.
  • The state should be responsible for monitoring the quality of district teacher evaluation and remediation plans and should intervene as needed.
  • Colorado should only include districts in its Race to the Top application that evaluate all teachers annually and that use a 4-point evaluation scale – unsatisfactory, effective, highly effective and exemplary. Effective is defined as a teacher whose students consistently average around one year’s growth in one year’s time, among other factors.
  • The state should create a fund to ensure that Colorado’s top teachers and leaders, through combined state and district funds, earn annual salaries in excess of $100,000.

A panel discussion about the report is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Oct. 1 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Ricketson Auditorium.

Scheduled participants include Barnett Barry, president of the Center for Teaching Quality; Joan Schunck, project director with The New Teacher Project; Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg; Harrison Schools Superintendent Mike Miles and Tony Salazar, executive director of the Colorado Education Association.

Click here to read a copy of Improving Teacher and School Leader Effectiveness: Designing a Framework for Colorado.

Nancy Mitchell can be reached at [email protected] or 303-478-4573.

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.