New York

Queens’ Daniel Dromm picked to head Council’s education committee

City Council member and former teacher Daniel Dromm, a Queens representative, was officially selected by new Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to chair the City Council’s education committee. In a statement, Dromm pledged to focus his work on universal prekindergarten, class size reduction, and tolerance for students of any sexual orientation.

Dromm was elected to the City Council in 2009. Before that, he was an elementary school teacher at P.S. 199 in Queens for 25 years and a day care center director for another six years. Dromm became a gay rights pioneer in 1992 when he came out on the cover of Newsday in opposition to his school board’s opposition to “Children of the Rainbow” curriculum that included references to same-sex couples.

Here is a statement his office just sent over:

“I am deeply honored to have been nominated as Chairperson of the Education Committee. Education has always been my passion and is what got me involved in politics in the first place.  I look forward to working with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to address education issues such as ensuring universal pre-kindergarten for all preschoolers, reducing class size, improving teacher morale, ensuring teachers have a role in the decision making process and fighting to create a safe and supportive environment for all students but especially for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students.  I am tremendously excited to serve in this capacity.”

A member of the council’s ever-growing progressive caucus, Dromm is aligned on many issues with other leaders in city government, including Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James and Mayor Bill de Blasio. The coziness has alarmed some who believe there should be more political diversity in government.

In an interview, Dromm downplayed those concerns and said he believed the new dynamic between the City Council and City Hall would elevate his bully pulpit power to elevate education issues that are important to him.

“In politics, you can be friends but still challenge each other on certain issues,” Dromm said. “We certainly need to move away from the Bloomberg era where our input was minimized.”

Dromm is a critic of education policies enacted under Mayor Bloomberg, including his support of charter schools.

“I’m deeply concerned about them taking resources away from our public school students,” Dromm said. “I’m also concerned with the corporatization of charters.”

Dromm added that he supports one of the charter schools in his district, the unionized Renaissance Charter School, which he called a “model charter school.”

Below is a complete list of council members who will serve on the education committee, re-posted from Politicker.

Dromm, Chair
Vincent Gentile
Daniel Garodnick
Margaret Chin
Stephen Levin
Deborah Rose
Mark Weprin
Jumaane Williams
Andy King
Inez Barron
Chaim Deutsch
Mark Levine
Alan Maisel
Antonio Reynoso
Mark Treyger

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.