behind the candidate

On education, independent Carrión takes advice from the right

Michael Allegretti, a vice president at the Manhattan Institute, advises mayoral candidate Adolfo Carrión, Jr., on education.

GothamSchools is profiling the education policy advisors to each mayoral candidate. 

Candidate: Adolfo Carrión, Jr.

Education policy advisor: Michael Allegretti, vice president of programs for the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

For the last two years, Michael Allegretti has overseen policy research at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank that champions school choice and the need for accountability.

Allegretti, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010, has also stayed active in politics, first by urging former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr., to run for mayor and now advising Carrión on education policy and other other issues.

Allegretti, who is not paid by Carrión’s campaign, said there is still confusion among the mainstream media about where Carrión stands on education issues, and that’s probably because he was a Democrat for more than 20 years before entering the race as an independent candidate.

“He is a strong school reformer,” Allegretti said. “He believes that right now the charter sector has made gains, and obviously it hasn’t succeeded at everything, but the experiment in charter education needs to be expanded so we can use best practices from it to improve the traditional public school system.”

Allegretti — whose mother was a city public school teacher, first in Harlem and then in the South Bronx — grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and attended P.S. 185 through the fourth grade. He graduated from Boston College and later from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2006. He’s worked at Partnership for New York City and The Climate Group and in 2010, he ran for Congress as a Republican in New York’s 13th district.

Now he works with Manhattan Institute policy researchers such as Marcus Winters, author of “Teaching Matters,” which examines how to recruit, retain and reward good teachers. And he helps Carrión’s fledgling campaign choose which education policy issues to emphasize.

“We help guide the debate toward more choice, more accountability, better curriculum and help avoid some of these ‘red herring’ arguments that by simply lowering class size, we’ll have better outcomes,” Allegretti said. “Well, the evidence isn’t there.”

He added that Carrión has also sought the advice of Seth Andrew at Democracy Prep Public Schools, a network of charter schools; Richard Kahn at Urban Assembly, which operates district schools; and James Merriman at the New York City Charter School Center.

“He’s surrounded himself with people who are at the forefront of education reform, doing the work on the ground,” Allegretti said. “My service to him is try to make some of these introductions, and make sure he has the best research in front of him to inform his position.”

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.