you're invited

Join us Nov. 15 for a film about a small school's growing pains

GothamSchools will moderate a panel following a November 15 screening of this film.
A new documentary chronicles the first four years of a small city school.

What happens as a new small school grows up? We’ve covered the road bumps and results for years here at GothamSchools.

Now, we have “The New Public,” a documentary film follows students at teachers at Brooklyn Community Arts and Media High School from the day the school opened in 2006 through the graduation of its first senior class.

We’re teaming up with the film’s producers for a special screening Nov. 15 that includes a panel discussion with Kevin Greer, the school’s founding English teacher; Lyntonia Coston, an assistant principal; and Earlene Tribble, the mother of one of the students featured in the film. (Find details about the screening, at Maysles Cinema in Harlem, and RSVP here.)

Panelists will discuss how the first few years challenged teachers’ and parents’ expectations, the changes they made in the moment, and what they would do differently if they could do day one all over again.

BCAM — one of hundreds of small, themed high schools created during the Bloomberg era — opened with 104 freshmen and eight teachers. Four years later, the staff had grown grown to 50 and the school to 450, but almost half of the senior class had dropped out or transferred to other schools.

“There were also kids that got lost,” the school’s social worker says toward the end of the film. We’ll be asking the panelists to explain that counter-intuitive statement: What does it mean for students to get lost in a small school?

We’ll also want to hear how the school’s culture evolved over time. Greer says early on in the film that some schools imprint their culture on students, but that he and his colleagues were trying to do something different. Four years later, an English teacher suggests that BCAM students get away with too much and says, “The idea is it’s not an authoritarian environment, but you’ve got to be realistic.”

The film showcases the shift. When Tribble’s son Moses is asked as a freshman to describe his school, he replies, “It’s fun, small, and it’s loose.” Later on, another student has a very different assessment: “We got away with a lot in ninth and 10th grade.”

Watch and discuss “The New Public” at the Maylses Cinema in Harlem at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15. RSVP here.

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.