Sunday, July 22, 2007

This Week’s News: Youth in Transition


L.A. District Faces Mounting Pressure Over High Schools
Education Week – July 18, 2007
After nearly eight months on the job, Superintendent David L. Brewer III has rolled out his strategy for improving student achievement in the 708,000-student Los Angeles Unified School District. so far, the momentum for improving high schools in the nation’s second-largest district has been coming from outsiders, centering largely on the fate of one troubled campus—Locke Senior High School in Watts. Earlier this week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a $7.8 million grant to help one of the city’s most successful charter school operators open small high schools in Watts, which would be alternatives to Locke.

Two schools would be catch-up, 'twilight'
Greensboro News-Record – July 20, 2007
North Carolina students who are too old for middle school but can’t handle ninth-grade-level work could attend a special school in the fall designed to catch them up. Terry Grier, Guilford County Schools superintendent, plans to propose a new alternative school called High School Ahead to the Guilford County Board of Education next week. Grier also plans to propose "twilight schools" for freshmen who have been suspended at least three times but don’t qualify for placement in alternative schools in Greensboro and High Point. Grier said both programs would boost academic performance and reduce drop-outs and discipline problems in high schools.

Much of Learning Gap Blamed on Summer
Education Week – July 16, 2007
It’s been a truism for decades that students’ learning slips during the summer, and that low-income children fall farther behind than their classmates, but no one had connected the longitudinal data dots to show just what the cumulative consequences of the summer slide might be. Until now. A recent study by sociology professor Karl L. Alexander and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore concludes that two-thirds of the reading achievement gap between 9th graders of low and high socioeconomic standing in Baltimore public schools can be traced to what they learned—or failed to learn—over their childhood summers.

Juvenile Justice

Program gives teens in trouble second chance
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – July 19, 2007
Fontez Foree was looking at two years in prison for burglary, and he was just 15 years old with a baby girl on the way. Fontez, who said he had no prior record, could have been sentenced to a juvenile justice center, the equivalent of prison for kids. Instead, he was recommended for a state-funded pilot program called Redeploy Illinois, a project designed to prevent nonviolent juvenile offenders ages 13-17 from committing more crimes. On Wednesday, Illinois Department of Human Services and Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice officials announced that the four-year program was surprisingly productive in its first two years.

Tough’s not enough
Greensboro News-Record – July 22, 2007
A wave of get-tough legislation and police crackdowns in Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere is making those cities' gang problems worse, not better, says the Justice Policy Institute. In a new report, the institute criticizes city leaders for placing far too much emphasis on policing, and far too little on prevention and intervention. It cites as an example dramatically different anti-gang philosophies in New York and Los Angeles – and dramatically different outcomes.

Juvenile-justice worker: Listen to the kids
Orlando Sentinel – July 18, 2007
We cannot fool ourselves into believing that the answer to reducing juvenile violent crime lies in beefed-up law enforcement and more prisons. The right solution must take a holistic approach to combating a much more systemic problem. Poverty, unaddressed mental-health needs and an educational system that is ill equipped to deal with "bad behavior" compounds the issue on a larger scale by limiting their access to resources and opportunities that would help them get ahead.

Foster Care

Foster care, orphanages doing more harm than good for children
Springfield News-Leader – July 15, 2007
Many children now trapped in foster care would be far better off if they remained with their own families even if those families got only the typical help - which tends to be little help, wrong help, or no help - commonly offered by agencies like the Missouri Children's Division. That's the message from the largest study ever undertaken comparing the impact on children of foster care versus keeping children alleged to be maltreated with their own families.

Youth Advocates Say Oakland a Magnet for Teenage Prostitution
KCBS – July 18, 2007
OAKLAND, Calif. (KCBS) -- The city’s group homes and foster care system are not enough to protect children from sexual exploitation, according to a group dedicated to combating teenage prostitution. Oakland has become a magnet for pimps trying to recruit teenagers for sex work, said Nola Brantley, director of the organization Sexually and Commercially Exploited Youth. “Group homes and the foster care youth are a target, and they're a recruiting ground,” she said Tuesday, at a news conference where the FBI announced a sting that resulted in 131 arrests.

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