road to city hall

Quinn, de Blasio tangle over schools as campaign trail heats up

Newly considered a frontrunner in the Democratic mayoral primary, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is taking aim at City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and he’s using her education record as ammunition.

Their dustup over after-school funding was only one of several statements that mayoral candidates made today about their plans for the city’s schools, as the pace of proposals — and re-proposals — picks up with the primary just weeks away.

Displaying a chart titled “New York City Out-of-School Time Seats Past Six Years Under Bloomberg and Quinn” at a press conference outside East Side Community High School today, de Blasio decried Quinn as complicit in recent cuts to city-funded after-school and child-care programs. 

The press conference was meant to draw attention to de Blasio’s proposal to increase taxes on New Yorkers earning $500,000 or more to pay for an expansion of pre-kindergarten and after-school programs. It came a day after de Blasio attacked Quinn’s proposal to let middle-class parents take out low-interest loans to pay for child care.

Quinn’s campaign immediately fired back, charging de Blasio with being all talk.

“When it comes to providing for the youngest New Yorkers, it’s a tale of two candidates: one who delivers for our youngest New Yorkers and one who simply talks about it,” campaign spokesman Mike Morey said in a statement. “Bill de Blasio, in his entire time in government, hasn’t create one after school program or one pre-kindergarten slot for a child in New York.”

Morey argued that Quinn had actually stopped some cuts from taking place. Indeed, in an elaborate ritual enacted every June for the last several years, the City Council restored some funding for after-school and child-care programs to the budgets that Mayor Bloomberg proposed.

The de Blasio-Quinn battle was only one ring of the campaign trail’s education circus today.

Bill Thompson announced that he would move to make school lunches free to all students, in response to the city’s decision to eliminate lunch costs for some low-income students while increasing the daily rate for students whose families are not considered low-income.

And Anthony Weiner took his mother, a retired city schoolteacher, to Brooklyn Technical High School to tout his plan to improve teacher training. As we reported last week, Weiner’s second installment of policy ideas says that new learning standards known as the Common Core are being introduced in the fall, and that teachers will “receive a very short training session” this month. But the new standards — and state tests aligned to them — rolled out last year and the city says it has spent more than $100 million to train teachers on them in the past two years.

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.