on the streets

At Giants parade, students who skipped school to join festivities

A father and son walk uptown after joining crowds to celebrate the New York Giants' Super Bowl victory.

City students were among the hundreds of thousands of New York Giants fans who flooded the streets around City Hall today to celebrate the team’s Super Bowl victory.

I took a lunchtime walk near our Lafayette Street office to soak in the spectacle and encountered, amid the crowds, families who had pulled their children from school today for the ticker-tape parade along Broadway’s Canyon of Heroes.

It’s a practice that is not officially sanctioned but got encouragement from former Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 2000, when he said students should be allowed to skip school for the Yankees’ World Series parade, as long as they read a book about baseball as well. After the Yankees’ 1998 World Series victory, high school attendance was 72 percent on the day of the parade, down from about 85 percent on typical days.

The Giants have been less of a draw in the past. In 2008, the last time the Giants won the Super Bowl, school attendance fell by about 4 percentage points on parade day across all grade levels.

About 20 seniors from Queens’ Bayside High School had gathered at the corner of Howard and Lafayette streets after the festivities.

“We were very excited. We didn’t go to school,” said one student who declined to give her name because she had skipped school. “The teachers know we’re here, but no, none came with us.”

Outside Roll and Go Pizza at the corner of Broadway and Franklin Street, I met five students from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School who said they had traveled from Brooklyn in a group of 20 but had lost their classmates in the crowds.

Senior Rifat Ahmed said she was too young to help celebrate the Giants’ 2008 win but had skipped school to celebrate the Yankees’ 2009 World Series victory. She said she went to FDR for two periods this morning — for a free period and gym class — before boarding the subway to Manhattan. (Another student said he hadn’t attended school at all today.)

“I just wanted the feeling of being there, with the toilet paper being thrown, and the footballs,” Ahmed said.

FDR is the school GothamSchools featured today in a story about teachers’ efforts to help an 18-year-old enrollee overcome illiteracy. It is also facing “turnaround,” or a process in which it would close and reopen with a new name and half of teachers replaced.

Ahmed said the city’s turnaround plan was misguided for FDR, which she noted serves many students who are considered English language learners and also routinely sends students to selective colleges with full scholarships.

“Our school has the greatest staff ever,” said Ahmed, a former executive in FDR’s student council. “Mayor Bloomberg — he’s not getting to know anything that’s happening there.”

Five students from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School who attended the parade. Senior Rifat Ahmed is at center.

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.