Thursday churn: A national teacher corps

UpdatedU.S. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colo., is proposing a national teacher corps to recruit and train 100,000 educators to work in high-needs schools over the next five years.

Bennet, in a letter to President Obama released today, urges the plan for a Presidential Teacher Corps be included in the budget that the president is sending to Congress next week.

The proposal from the former Denver Public Schools superintendent would create “a new kind of portable license” for teachers who serve in high-needs schools and demonstrate they are highly effective based on multiple measures.

Read the news release and Bennet’s letter to Obama here.

Daily Churn logoThe bill intended to help protect young athletes against concussions has its first legislative committee hearing today, teed up by a news conference at which sponsors will tout the proposal.

Senate Bill 11-040 would require youth sports coaches to take training in recognizing concussion symptoms, require an athlete be removed from practice or a game if a coach suspects a concussion and also require such athletes be medically evaluated and have written clearance before returning to play.

The measure is dubbed the Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act in memory of a Grandview High School freshman who collapsed during a football game in September 2004 and died later at a hospital. Jake’s mother, Kelli Jantz, and former Bronco Ed McCaffrey are scheduled to appear at the 12:30 p.m. news conference in room 356 of the Capitol.

The bill’s prime sponsors are Sens. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, and Linda Newell, D-Littleton. The measure will be heard during the Senate Health and Human Services Committee’s 1:30 p.m. meeting, also in room 356.

Past Education News Colorado stories on the issue:

In case you missed it, the latest public figure to enter the fray in the recall attempt of Denver school board president Nate Easley is Wellington Webb, the former mayor. He’s backing Easley, according to this report by Melanie Asmar at Westword.

What’s on tap:

The State Board of Education convenes the final day of its two-day February meeting at 9 a.m. in the boardroom at 201 E. Colfax Ave. Link to agenda.

On the agenda is an application under the Innovation Schools Act from the 109-student Kit Carson School District, which is seeking a waiver from the educator effectiveness law, also known as Senate Bill 10-191. Among other requests, Superintendent Gerald Keefe and his board want the ability to hire non-licensed teachers in the district on the eastern plains. They’re also asking for greater flexibility in evaluating educators and renewing their contracts.

A vote on Kit Carson’s innovation status isn’t scheduled until March 9 but the board has allotted 20 minutes for discussion because it’s the first district to seek a waiver from the law and “the State Board’s policy determination could establish significant precedent for other potential applicants,” the agenda notes.

Read the district’s innovation application here and see the recommended changes by state officials here.

Good reads from elsewhere:

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

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.