Charles Bendit will resign from the state’s education policymaking body this month, creating a surprise third opening on the Board of Regents and potentially allowing for a more radical shift of its ideology.
Bendit’s departure comes as the board is undergoing a seismic transition: Both of the board’s leaders, Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Vice Chancellor Anthony Bottar, plan to step down in March, and four of the board’s 17 members were replaced last year. The openings have led to intense jockeying, as some 50 candidates have been vying to join the board.
The shakeup is part of a larger shift in state education policy away from a series of controversial changes spearheaded in part by Tisch, including teacher evaluations that use state test scores. On Monday, Bendit said his beliefs and ideals often aligned with Tisch’s, whereas many of the new members have made it clear that they favor policies that reduce the importance of testing.
A real estate developer and investor, Bendit has brought an interest in creating partnerships between public education and private companies. He serves on the board of PENCIL, which works to connect schools and businesses. Bendit’s term would have ended in 2017.
“My time on the board was very meaningful,” Bendit told Chalkbeat on Monday. “I’ve always been passionate about public education. I’ve always been passionate about what we, as members of the private sector, have in supporting public education.”
Since Bendit fills a Manhattan seat, the legislature will have to conduct another round of interviews for the open position. Michael Whyland, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, said their intent is to fill the seat in March, but no interviews have been scheduled yet.
Bendit will attend the Regents meeting next week and will officially step down on Feb. 24.
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The Chicago Police Department doesn’t adequately screen and train the officers it assigns to Chicago Public Schools, and their roles in schools are poorly defined, according to a sharply critical report released today by the Office of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.
The report lists a litany of failings, including basic administration: There is no current agreement between the police department and the district governing the deployment of school resource officers, or SROs, and neither the schools nor the police even have a current list of the officers working in schools this year.
The inspector general’s report also mentions several sets of SRO resources and best practices created and endorsed by the federal government, then notes that Chicago hasn’t adopted any of them. “CPD’s current lack of guidance and structure for SROs amplifies community concerns and underscores the high probability that students are unnecessarily becoming involved in the criminal justice system, despite the availability of alternate solutions,” says the report.
Chalkbeat reported in August about incidents in which SROs used batons and tasers on students while intervening in routine disciplinary matters.
Scrutiny of SROs is nothing new, and is part of the broader CPD consent decree brokered this week between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. That agreement calls for better training and vetting of SROs, as well as a clearer delineation of their roles on campuses—including a prohibition against participating in routine school discipline — beginning with the 2019-20 school year.
But the report from Ferguson’s office says that the consent decree doesn’t go far enough. It chastises police for not pledging to include the community in the creation of its agreement with the school district, nor in the establishment of hiring guidelines; and for not creating a plan for evaluating SROs’ performance, among other recommendations. In addition, the report criticizes the police department for delaying the reforms until the 2019-20 school year. A draft of the inspector general’s report was given to the police department in early August in hopes that some of the issues could be resolved in time for the school year that began last week. The police department asked for an extension for its reply.