Monday, April 16, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Vouchers see mixed success this session – April 9, 2007
This year the school choice movement reached a milestone – Utah became the first state to sign a universal voucher law. Unlike other voucher programs, Utah’s would allow every child – regardless of income or geography – to receive public money to attend private school. But a drive is under way to dismantle that plan before it can get off the ground this fall. Utahns for Public Schools, a coalition including the state’s teachers union and school boards association, is trying to take the voucher decision out of lawmakers’ hand and give it to the voters.

Decision to drop D grade being reviewed
The Californian – April 12, 2007
Temecula—School district officials and teachers are reviewing a long-standing and sometimes criticized academic policy that eliminated D grades from high school report cards. The review was jump-started recently at the behest of Superintendent Carol Leighty, who said she believes the Temecula Valley Unified School District’s 9-year-old policy is “forward thinking,” but that she wants some current data and opinions about its effectiveness and repercussions. According the policy, high school students who received a grade of less than 70 percent in any class do not get credit for the course. When trustees approved the policy, they had said it would force struggling students to take their grades more seriously. Critics of the policy had contended that it would steer students away from more challenging courses, increase the dropout rate, and that some pupils are only capable of earning D’s.

UC schools turning away record numbers
Mercury News – April 4, 2007
The University of California’s top campuses this spring rejected a record number of applicants, reflecting a nationwide trend that made 2007 the most competitive year ever for students seeking slots at elite universities. Nationwide, more than 3.2 million students will graduate from high school this June, the largest number since the 1970s, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The one bright spot was for black and Latino applicants, who saw their admission offers increase by at least 10 percent. Historically underrepresented students – blacks, American Indians and Latinos – make up nearly 23 percent of fall 2007 admissions, up from 21.7 percent for fall 2006.

Juvenile Justice

Losing juvenile jails aids justice, some say
The Times-Picayune – April 8, 2007
The floods that followed Katrina wiped out both detention facilities. The crisis was viewed as an opportunity, not only by civilian youth advocates but by many police who had come to see juvenile lockup as a breeding ground as likely to turn delinquents into hardened criminals as to scare them back onto the straight and narrow. In search of an alternative, Juvenile Court judges began meeting with the New Orleans Police Department, local agencies that serve youth, and the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In Orleans, the consortium of officials decided against rebuilding the juvenile jails, seeing them as part of a flawed system that relied too heavily on detention and offered few alternative programs. Under the new system, violent offenders are still detained, but most arrested children are released to their parents and ordered to appear in court at later date.

Foster Care

Racial disparity in foster care addressed
Bowling Green Daily News – April 5, 2007
Gov. Ernie Fletcher and leaders from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services announced a project Tuesday to target racial disparity in child welfare system in 11 counties, including Warren. Tom Eberton, undersecretary for Children and Family Services, said his office has proposed a $500,000 2007 budget to provide for administrative costs, education and community outreach materials, training contracts and data management services. Eberton said the project will allow his office to study the disparity further and see what contributes to it, what’s going on and why these numbers are so high.

Foster kids call for the right to drive
Miami Herald – April 9, 2007
Tallahassee—When you’re in the foster care system, a driver’s license isn’t a right of passage, says Chelsea Hall, a former foster child. It is another reminder that something separates you from other teenagers. A bill sponsored by state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, would make it easier for foster children to get their driver’s license by allowing caseworkers and foster parents to sign the required paperwork without accepting legal responsibility for the young driver. The proposal also would allow some foster children to open their own bank accounts and expand their access to healthcare and support services.

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