Sunday, June 03, 2007

This Week’s News: Youth in Transition


U.S. Data Show Rapid Minority Growth in School Rolls
New York Times – June 1, 2007
Driven mainly by an extraordinary influx of Hispanics, the nation’s population of minority students has surged to 42 percent of public school enrollment, up from 22 percent three decades ago, according to an annual report issued yesterday by the government. The report, a statistical survey of the nation’s educational system, portrays sweeping ethnic shifts that have transformed the schools. The changes, with important implications for educators and policy makers, have been most striking in the West, where, the survey says, Hispanic, black and Asian students together have outnumbered whites since 2003.

The first rule of school: Be there
South Bend Tribune – May 29, 2007
The South Bend schools should have an attendance policy aimed at making sure kids have enough in-school learning time. Last month, the Indianapolis Star published a four-part editorial series on truancy in the Indianapolis Public Schools. The conclusions, based on data from the state departments of Education and Correction, were pertinent to the entire state and especially to South Bend: Truancy is a predictor of dropping out. And, most of the 26,300 juveniles and adults in the Indiana prison system were high school drop-outs. It's clear that truancy sets kids up for failure.

Dropping out often leads to prison time
Augusta Chronicle – May 28, 2007
High school dropouts have a greater likelihood to end up incarcerated. Georgia's prison population is nearly 50,000 inmates. Three quarters are high school dropouts, according to the Georgia Bureau of Prison's statistics. The percentage nationally for inmates in state prisons is also at 75 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. "There is a direct correlation," said Richmond County State Court Judge David D. Watkins. "I've told people ... it's almost a profile. It's one of the main components - dropping out." Conversely, Judge Watkins, whose criminal caseload is made up of misdemeanor and traffic offenses, said it's rare to see high school graduates in court two or three times.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice advocates praise Newsom Administration Bill of Rights for Incarcerated Young Mothers
San Francisco Sentinel – May 29, 2007
Juvenile justice advocates are lauding San Francisco for its pioneering Bill of Rights for incarcerated young mothers. The 10-point declaration implemented by the Newsom administration and believed to be the first of its kind, will guide policy in the city’s juvenile halls, said Marlene Sanchez, executive director of The Center for Young Women’s Development. The San Francisco-based nonprofit organization has been working for about two years with the city’s juvenile probation department on the project. The declaration went into effect in January, and Sanchez says the next step is training those who work in the juvenile justice system.

Program Flagged Immigrant Youths
Tampa Tribune – May 30, 2007
In the past year, Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice has used state funds for a program to tag 361 possibly undocumented immigrants in its system. "These are kids, and from a human rights perspective we have a social responsibility for them," said Tampa lawyer Mayra Calo, whose practice specializes in deportation, asylum and human rights. "For the state senator to say, 'They're here illegally, let's just get rid of them and deport them,' that's just passing the buck and pushing the problem along."

Foster Care

Census to track foster youth
San Francisco Chronicle – May 29, 2007
The U.S. Census Bureau has decided after all to keep track of foster youth. Its initial decision to exclude the "foster child" category from the 2010 Census -- in order to keep its form to a single page -- touched off vigorous objections from advocacy groups and a Missouri Democrat who chairs the House Information, Policy, Census and National Archives subcommittee. As we argued on April 22, the elimination of the foster child category was more than a symbolic slap at young people who are our collective responsibility. Next up should be passage of legislation (Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Olympia Snow, R-Maine, in the Senate; Danny Davis, D-Ill., in the House) to allow government payments (for both monthly support and services such as drug treatment or mental-health counseling) to follow the child into a relative's home. It's good that the federal government is going to keep track of children. It also needs to do more to improve the living conditions it has agreed to measure.

Foster care suffers from budget freeze
Los Angeles Times – May 27, 2007
Re "Is gov.'s budget picking on the helpless or using them as bargaining chips?" column, May 17: The governor's proposed budget would freeze payments for the care of the state's most vulnerable and abused children for the sixth year in a row, resulting in a 20% cumulative cut in support since 2001. When the state fails to provide adequate financial support, good families and youth counselors turn away from foster care giving and high-quality group homes close their doors.

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