research says

Group launches ed research site to guide mayoral candidates

Mayoral candidates have only just started outlining their education policy agendas as campaign season heats up. But one advocacy group is stepping in to help them figure out what those platforms look like.

A+NYC, a new coalition formed earlier this year to shape policy in time for the 2013 mayoral election, launched an online “policy hub” today that includes research briefs on 20 education issues that the group wants to be the focus of debates in months to come. The coalition will eventually make policy recommendations once it is done hosting more than 60 local community meetings.

A+ NYC is made up of many of the same organizers who are behind New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, a union-backed coalition of advocacy organizations. Both groups are trying to influence what education policies the mayoral candidates implement, but while New Yorkers for Great Public Schools has held rallies and criticized its opponents, A+ NYC is seeking a quieter strategy.

That strategy began by recruiting 11 education non-profits to look at research topics of expertise and compile summary briefs on each one. Though the coalition was formed in the spirit of changing many policies established in the last 12 years, the summaries highlight research that occasionally supports Bloomberg initiatives, including special education reforms and the city’s wish to use student surveys on teacher evaluations.

In some instances, the briefs initially left out well-known research. The charter schools research brief omits findings from Macke Raymond’s 2010 CREDO report on New York City’s charter sector, which showed charter students scored higher on reading and math tests than district school peers. The brief instead highlights a 2009 study by Caroline Hoxby, which found similar gains made by charter school students, and notes that those findings were contested.

Update: The Annenberg Institute, which authored the charter school brief, updated the web page to include the 2010 CREDO study.

At an event to discuss the launch today, panelists who helped author some of the briefs said they hoped their work would offer candidates some direction as they begin to craft their education platforms.

“There is a consensus among the candidates that they have to go in a different direction, and there seems to be a lot of uncertainty among the candidates about what positive policies they should adopt,” said Class Size Matters executive director Leonie Haimson, who penned the research briefs on class sizes and high-stakes testing.

Some controversial topics were off limits, said Megan Hester, a coordinator for the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.

“We’re not going to touch union contracts or governance,” Hester said. “The groups came together around a common belief that teaching and learning need to be more of the focus in the next administration.”

The next phase of A+ NYC’s efforts, called PS2013, will be recommending policies based on conversations with a wide range of groups and organizations, including political clubs, church groups and parent associations. Hester said the coalition would use qualitative research software called Dedoose to help them organize feedback.

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.