Sunday, February 11, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


State education boss calls for achievement gap summit
North County Times - February 6, 2007
The achievement gap—the difference in student performance between traditionally low- performing poor, ethnic, or disabled students and more affluent white or Asian students—continues to vex state and local educators, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, Jack O’Connell, said Tuesday.

Report says educators need to better track alternative schools
Sacramento Bee - February 7, 2007
The state doesn’t do enough to keep track of what happens to more than one in 10 high school students who attend alternative schools in California, according to a report issued Wednesday by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. Between 10 and 15 percent of all high school students in California attend some kind of alternative school. The state’s accountability system “allows schools and districts to use referrals to alternative schools as a way to avoid responsibility for the progress of low-performing students,” the report said.

Building young careers
Orange County Register – February 9, 2007
State Secretary of Education Scott Himelstein visited Katella High Thursday morning to tour the school’s highly touted building academy, a program that prepares students for careers in the construction industry. Himelstein stated that it is important for high schools to offer students more vocational training because technical programs integrate core academics with technical and occupational courses to give students pathways to both postsecondary education and careers.

Juvenile Justice

Settlement proposed in juvenile justice suit
The Cincinnati Post-February 5, 2007
Ohio’s juvenile justice will make is easier for offenders to find attorneys and file claims over the length or conditions of their detention under a proposed settlement to a three-year-old lawsuit alleging unconstitutional denial of legal representation. The Department of Youth Services started helping juvenile offenders find attorneys after the class-action lawsuit was filed and will create a formal program under the settlement tentatively approved January 12 in U.S. District Court. The final approval hearing is set for March 6.

Educators, students praise peer punishment system
Taunton Gazette – February 6, 2007
The program hopes to offer an alternative to suspension for misbehaving students-a punishment decided by a jury of fellow students. The court, which is scheduled to be up and running by the spring, will be one of 11,000 youth courts in the country, but just the fourth in Massachusetts. Using a youth court helps keep some minor offenders out of the juvenile justice system, says Lisa DaPont, director of the Taunton Youth Court.

Child Welfare
Sun-Sentinel-February 5, 2007
State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, has filed a bill to establish a “children and youth cabinet” that would be chaired by the governor and include several agencies, including the Departments of Children & Families, Education, Health and Juvenile Justice. The proposed public hearings would meet periodically, hold public hearings around the state and draft a strategy that would foster greater collaboration in dealing with the problems facing Florida’s youth. The idea coincides with a new initiative by the Children’s Welfare League of America, which wants to stem the flow of foster youths that end up in the criminal justice system as juvenile delinquents.

Foster Care

Genesis House: A new beginning
Star Banner – February 11, 2007
After a three-year effort, Childhood Development Services recently celebrated the opening of Genesis House, an emergency shelter for at-risk youth. Children 10 to 17 who have been removed from their homes by the Department of Children and Families due to abuse and neglect can find a safe, home-like experience that strives to take care of the body and mind of the children in its care. Once admitted to Genesis House, youth are assessed for their specific needs and goals are developed. Counseling sessions are scheduled and the youth begin their journey to self-sufficiency.

Judge in Polk County lets foster kids go to hearings
Des Moines Register – February 11, 2007
Last spring, the foster youth of Elevate told the bar association meeting in Des Moines they felt left out of the court process, where decisions are made about their parents’ ability to care for them, and their own future. After listening to the youths, Judge Joe E. Smith said he had a change of heart. Smith now tells lawyers and social workers they need to make arrangements for children- generally those 8 and up, although any age is welcome unless attendance would be hurtful- to come to hearings.

Ex-Foster care kids get help to succeed in college
Charleston Gazette – February 10, 2007
Too few young people in foster care go on to college, but on Valentine’s Day, the Orphan Foundation of America sends out packages to each student to remind them that someone cares about them and wants to encourage them. At least 13,000 young people who were in foster care and now are in college will receive a care package that includes a hand-knitted scarf and Valentine’s Day items. The Red Scarf Project for Valentine’s Day started 14 years ago to help young people feel the encouragement they need to succeed as adults.

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