A66 volunteers hit the streets

Hundreds of volunteers fanned out across more than a dozen Colorado communities Saturday to personally urge voters to support Amendment 66, the proposed $950 million P-12 tax increase.

Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia
Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia
The Yes on 66 campaign organized rallies and door-to-door canvassing in communities stretching from Grand Junction to Denver and from Greeley to Pueblo.

Abby Leeper of Colorado Commits to Kids estimated late Saturday that about 830 volunteers gathered at the rallies and that about 65,000 homes were canvassed.

The effort was mounted just a few days before the first mailing of ballots to voters around the state. County clerks can begin sending ballots out on Tuesday.

In northeast Denver, a diverse crowd of about 80 to 100 volunteers gathered at Clayton Early Learning, where the Rev. Dawn Riley Duval of Shorter AME Church warmed up the audience with an enthusiastic affirmation that “This is the day the Lord has made” and a prayer. That came after the National Anthem was sung by a trio.

Rev. Dawn Riley Duval
Rev. Dawn Riley Duval

Duval and several other speakers stressed the standard Colorado Commits talking points – that passage of Amendment 66 will lead to smaller class sizes, more individual attention for students and more detailed tracking of education spending.

Anna Jo Hayes, the longtime leader of Mile High Montessori, highlighted the benefits of A66 for preschool and full-day kindergarten and urged volunteers to contact all their friends by cellphone “even before you get out to knock on doors.”

At midday outside the Wheat Ridge 5-8 School on West 38th Avenue, another 100 or so people gathered to hear Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia urge passage of the amendment. “Not all kids have the same opportunities now,” he said, adding that changing that “is what Amendment 66 is all about.

“Every kid is important to our state. … We need globally competitive students and teachers,” Garcia said, adding, “This is something that will allow Colorado to lead the nation in so many ways.”

Garcia acknowledged the complexity of A66 and it accompanying legislation, Senate Bill 13-213, but urged volunteers to emphasize smaller classes sizes, more individual messages and greater accountability as they met with voters.

“That’s a simple message. Help spread it.”

Rallies and canvassing were held in Adams County, Arapahoe County, Boulder County, Denver, El Paso County, Jefferson County, La Plata County, Larimer County, Mesa County, Pueblo, the Roaring Fork Valley, Routt County, the San Luis Valley, Summit County and Weld County.

Campaign officials said some canvassing was done before Saturday and that the efforts will continue until Election Day on Nov. 5.

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

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.