The Daily Churn: Wednesday

What’s churning:

Updated: Joe Garcia, president of Colorado State University-Pueblo and newly minted Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, will take some time off from the university while he and gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper are on the campaign trail.

The CSU Board of Governors today approved a resolution detailing a transition plan under which Garcia will continue his duties as president until Sept. 10, during the period when the new academic year is starting. After that he’ll take unused vacation time and then unpaid leave until the election on Nov. 3. CSU-Fort Collins President Tony Frank will oversee things in Pueblo while Garcia is off. Chancellor Joe Blake also said he’ll be spending more time in the Pueblo community.

If Hickenlooper and Garcia win, the board will begin a search for a replacement. If the Democratic team is defeated, Garcia will return to his post as campus president effective Nov. 4.

Republican Party operatives, who’ve got their own gubernatorial candidate mess to deal with, have agitated for Garcia to leave his job, arguing a working state employee shouldn’t be also be campaigning. The statement issued by CSU said the needs of the Pueblo campus were the primary concern of the board.

Michael Bennet’s surprisingly wide margin of victory over Andrew Romanoff in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate should stop stomachs from churning among Dems, and may allow tomorrow’s unity rally to provide some closure. And perhaps the Denver school board and others within Denver Public Schools can bury the hatchet and get back to the business of focusing on education rather than politics. We will soon find out.

As people digest this year’s Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) scores, it’s clear that results for the state as a whole were disappointing at best, but a victory for people pushing a reform agenda. Districts like Harrison, Denver and Mapleton with ambitious reform plans did well, even if they have a long way to go before claiming bragging rights. In terms of growth, stalwarts Douglas County and Cherry Creek did well, along with Denver and, to some extent, Aurora. See EdNews’ analysis of growth data.

On tap today:

A full day for SBE: The State Board of Education holds its regular monthly meeting today. Agenda highlights include a vote on the recommended 2010 projects for BEST funding, a second appeal from the Prospect Ridge Charter of conditions imposed on its charter by the Adams 12 District and a request for innovation status from Colorado Springs District 11 for Wasson High School.

Good reads from elsewhere:

A $10 billion breather: The U.S. House of Representatives passes a bill to save 100,000 teaching jobs.

Oh, Arizona: Tucson, state government do battle over ethnic studies.

Closing the gap: Some colleges have nearly eliminated the graduation gap among different races, ethnicities.

But I want my tater tots: The healthy school lunch movement is gaining steam nationally.

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.