going to washington

Among eight teachers honored by USDOE, two from KIPP NYC

Jonathan McIntosh,
Jonathan McIntosh,

Of the eight teachers that the U.S. Department of Education picked from across the country this year to bridge the gap between policy and practice, two come from New York City schools.

In fact, the department selected both a Washington Fellow and a Classroom Fellow from KIPP charter schools in the city, giving the network the only city schools and the only charter schools to be represented in Washington, D.C., this year.

The fellows began their term this month and will spend the year advising Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, telling policy makers about their classroom experiences, and brokering conversations among teachers about how the Obama administration is advancing its education priorities.

Joiselle Cunningham will take the year off from teaching reading at KIPP Infinity Middle School to work full-time in Washington, focusing on teacher quality issues. Jonathan McIntosh, who coordinates special education and coaches debate at KIPP AMP Charter School in Brooklyn, will continue working at his school part-time but will also spend about 20 hours a week at the U.S. Department of Education’s New York City office.

McIntosh said he would strive to visit city schools where great teaching is happening, as well.

“My first job and responsibility is to my students, but as much as possible I want to be in classrooms because I feel that’s where the change is happening,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Education fellowship was not the first honor for either McIntosh or Cunningham. This year, Cunningham was a finalist for Teach for America’s Alumni in Teaching Award, and McIntosh participated in the Summer Principals Academy at Columbia University Teachers College that former city schools official Eric Nadelstern runs.

Josh Zoia, KIPP NYC’s superintendent, said the teachers’ selection reflected the charter network’s values, as well.

“At KIPP, we believe that great teaching happens when teachers have the freedom to innovate and the opportunity to get better every day,” he said. “When something works, we celebrate it and share it broadly among other teachers. We also provide teachers with time for professional development and personal renewal. Both Jonathan and Joiselle embody this ethos so we’re very excited and proud that they’ve been selected.”

This year’s crop of eight fellows is the smallest since the U.S. Department of Education began recruiting teacher ambassadors in 2008. Four city educators had been selected for the position in the past: Genevieve DeBose of Bronx Charter School for the Arts in 2011; Jemal Graham of Brooklyn’s M.S. 113 in Brooklyn in 2010; Jason Raymond of the High School of Law and Public Service in 2009; and Nicora Placa, a Bronx mathematics educator in the program’s first year. Teachers must have five years of experience in order to apply.

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.