Colorado

Monday Churn: Authorizer report card

Updated 12:15 p.m. – The number of charter school closures has declined over the last three years, according to a study released today by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

The finding was part of the association’s 2011 review of charter authorizing practices around the nation.

According to the association’s news release, in 2010-2011, 6.2 percent of charter schools that were reviewed for renewal were closed, down from 8.8 percent in 2009-2010 and 12.6 percent in 2008-2009.

“These findings don’t tell us whether the right number are being closed,” said NACSA President and CEO Greg Richmond, “but our experience suggests that authorizing agencies should be closing more, rather than fewer, poor-performing schools.”

The news release highlighted Denver Public Schools as an example of responsible authorizing, noting the district has closed six schools over the past three years, nearly 20 percent of its charters.

The annual report relies on voluntary responses to questionnaires by authorizers so doesn’t provide full data.

For Colorado, 21, or 44 percent, of the state’s 48 authorizers responded to the association’s questionnaire. Those authorizers cover 65 percent of Colorado charters. The report found one Colorado charter was non-renewed last year and one charter was surrendered.

Of the 14 Colorado authorizers who responded fully to the association’s questions about compliance with “essential practices,” the average score was 7.7 out of 12. Nationwide the average score was 8.7.

The quality of charter authorizing is a current topic of discussion in Colorado. The State Board of Education recently approved guidelines on the issue (see story), and legislation on charter standards and authorizing is pending at the Capitol (see story).

More information

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Two big bills are on legislative calendars this week.

Senate Bill 12-015, the proposal to create special college tuition rates for undocumented students, is calendared for preliminary Senate floor consideration on Tuesday. The bill came out of the Senate Education Committee after a long and emotional hearing last Thursday (see story).

Full disclosure – bills set for Senate floor consideration often get held over for a variety of reasons, so we’ll see if this one actually gets debated Tuesday.

On Thursday, Senate Bill 12-068 has its first hearing, in the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. This is the measure that would ban the use of trans fats in food served at schools.

See the week’s schedule of education-related legislative meetings here.

What’s on tap:

WEDNESDAY

Adams 12-Five Star school board members meet at the Educational Support Center, 1500 E. 128th Ave. The time has not yet been set. Agenda items are expected to include school bonds and the 2012 legislature.

The University of Colorado Board of Regents has a two-day meeting scheduled on the Colorado Springs campus. Agenda

The Metro State trustees open two days of committee sessions Wednesday and a full board meeting Thursday. Agenda

THURSDAY

Denver Public Schools board members meet for a four-hour “focus on achievement” study session, starting at 4:30 p.m. at 900 Grant St. The single agenda item is “strategic management of financial resources.”

Douglas County school board members have scheduled at special meeting at 6 p.m. at district headquarters, 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock. The agenda is not yet available; it will be here when ready.

Jeffco school board members will meet at 6 p.m. in the auditorium at Lakewood High School, 9700 West 8th Ave. in Lakewood. The meeting location was changed to accommodate what is expected to be a large crowd for public comment. Prior to the 6 p.m. meeting, the board will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. to discuss negotiations with employee groups. Agenda.

Good reads from elsewhere:

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, toured Boulder’s Casey Middle School with a White House official, looking at the energy efficient elements in the design. The Boulder Daily Camera went along.

The Delta County School District 50 board of education hired Jerre Doss as interim superintendent, reports the Delta County Independent.

The Greeley-Evans School District 6 board of education is eyeing a possible November bond election and application for state BEST grant dollars to fix structural problems at two schools, the Greeley Tribune reports.

Structural issues have been identified in every Neenan Co. project built with the help of state BEST dollars, the Denver Post reports, and State Board of Education Chairman Bob Schaffer is publicly supporting the company.

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at [email protected]

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.

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at [email protected]

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede