public opinion

Poll: As NYers get to know Walcott more, they like him less

Eight months on the job has done little to boost Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott’s image in the eye of New Yorkers.

A Quinnipiac poll released today shows Walcott’s approval rating as essentially unchanged since he became chancellor in April. But his disapproval rating is way up.

According to the poll, 33 percent of New Yorkers approve of Walcott’s handling of his job. That’s up just 2 points from a similar poll in May, a month after he became chancellor.

During the same period, his disapproval rating swung from from 21 percent to 34 percent. His disapproval rating among public school parents rose from 32 percent to 45 percent.

It appears that many of the people who have made up their minds about Walcott since April have decided they do not approve of his job performance.

When he became chancellor after Cathie Black’s surprise resignation, Walcott was not well known among New Yorkers, even though he had been a deputy mayor for all of Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure. In May, 48 percent of respondents told Quinnipiac that they didn’t know enough about Walcott to assess his performance. That number is down to 33 percent on the most recent poll, signaling that Walcott’s frequent appearances in the press are paying off in public awareness.

Thirty-eight percent of parents now approve of Walcott’s performance, up from 30 percent in May. His overall approval rating is down 6 points since October and 4 points lower than ex-Chancellor Joel Klein’s approval rating in June 2010, the last time Quinnipiac polled about him.

Black, who was chancellor for three months between the two men, scored a 17 percent approval rating just before resigning in April — the lowest of any city official in the history of Quinnipiac polling.

The most recent poll found that 49 percent of New Yorkers approve of Bloomberg’s job performance. More than half of respondents said Bloomberg had mishandled the Occupy Wall Street protests, though.

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.