Monday, July 09, 2007

This Week’s News: Youth in Transition


Black drop-out rate a concern in Iowa City district
Iowa Gazette – July 6, 2007
Student attendance and discipline are not major problems in the Iowa City school district, but an uptick in high school fights and a disproportionate drop-out rate for black students are concerns, Superintendent Lane Plugge said. Student attendance at the K-8 level for the 2006-07 school year averaged 95.9 percent, according to a district report released today. The district did not have an overall average for the high schools, but attendance by trimester was between 91 and 94 percent. Though blacks make up 13.5 percent of the district's junior high and high school students, they accounted for 36.8 percent of the drop outs this past school year.

Commentary: TEA thwarts efforts to leave no child behind
Austin American-Statesman – July 7, 2007
The Texas Education Agency's school-wide rating system, based solely on the performance of small sub-populations, labels the GED students in a high school as dropouts even when they are there working with the teacher. Every hour, every day, in every high school, a small number of young folks nominate themselves to be the child left behind. And hourly, daily, hardworking teachers slip into the supply closet or lavatory to strap on their tattered Superman capes or Wonder Women belts. We emerge ready once again to fight for "truth, justice and the American Way." And, honestly, public education is the bedrock for that truth and that justice and that democratic way of life.

Juvenile Justice

Accord struck on teen jailing
Sacramento Bee – July 5, 2007
The Schwarzenegger administration has reached an agreement with legislative budget writers on a plan to stop sending less-serious and nonviolent juvenile criminals to state institutions, beginning this year. If the full Legislature goes along with the plan, the decade-long population decline at the Division of Juvenile Justice would continue, dropping over the next two years from 2,600 currently to 1,500, according to the agency's projections. Instead of being housed in the state's eight juvenile facilities, less-serious juvenile offenders would be retained at the local level.

Teens languish in county lockup: Long-promised reforms lagging
San Jose Mercury News – July 5, 2007
Last month, Santa Clara County's juvenile hall held 354 minors behind its locked doors. It was the highest number in at least three decades. Their average time in custody, 39 days, was significantly longer than their counterparts in Alameda County (25 days) or San Mateo County (15.5 days) or than the state average of 31. What's more, the overwhelming majority - nearly eight out of 10 - were minorities. Taken by themselves, the numbers are disturbing. When compared with the county's lofty reform goals, they hint at a broader failure - one that has taken county officials by surprise and spurred a hunt for solutions.

Age Raised
New Haven Independent – July 9, 2007
Toni Walker's years-long crusade has paid off, with passage of a state law that will stop sending teens under 18 to adult prisons. Anyone who's been following the efforts of Walker, a New Haven state representative, New Haven State Sen. Toni Harp and others knows that Connecticut is one of just three states in the country that incarcerates 16- and 17-year-olds in adult prisons, with adult offenders. But not everyone knows that, according to Walker, the state Department of Corrections has estimated that only 3 percent of these young people are dangerous.

Foster Care

Study: Troubled homes better than foster care
USA Today – July 3, 2007
Children whose families are investigated for abuse or neglect are likely to do better in life if they stay with their families than if they go into foster care, according to a pioneering study. The findings intensify a vigorous debate in child welfare: whether children are better served with their families or away from them. Kids who stayed with their families were less likely to become juvenile delinquents or teen mothers and more likely to hold jobs as young adults, says the study by Joseph Doyle, an economics professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management who studies social policy.

Governor defends foster care system after initial review
Boston Globe – July 3, 2007
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Gov. Don Carcieri on Tuesday defended the state's foster care system, rebutting claims in a new federal lawsuit that children in state custody been abused, neglected and sent back to unsafe homes. The lawsuit, filed last week by the state's child advocate against the governor and the Department of Children, Youth and Families, identifies 10 children who it says were mistreated in foster care.

New law allows Vt. children to stay in foster care past 18
Bennington Banner – July 7, 2007
Vermont officials are hoping a change in state law will help make the road to adulthood less bumpy for teens in foster care. Starting this month, they can remain in foster care until they're 22. Vermont is now one of nine states that now funds foster care past 18, although legislation is pending in other states, said Joyce Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Child Welfare League in Arlington, Va. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. has introduced legislation that would provide federal funding to states to continue foster care through age 21. "We think it's great, because so many kids are not prepared," said Johnson. "Even kids in families aren't necessarily ready to leave the nest when they turn 18, so we think it's very important," she said, referring to that bill.

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