Sunday, September 02, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Alternative Route to Diploma Proposed in Md.
The Washington Post – August 29, 2007
Maryland high school students who are unable to pass a set of exams required for graduation could instead submit projects to demonstrate their mastery of academic subjects, under a plan introduced Tuesday by the State School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick. Grasmick offered her alternative because she is concerned that hundreds of students could be denied diplomas based on a single set of tests, rather than on their master of the subject.

Dollars for Scholars
Newsweek National News – September 3, 2007
When school starts next week, New York City will offer an enticement to get parents in low-income neighborhoods more involved in their children’s education and overall health. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has raised more than $40 million to pay families a modest amount for small task - $50 for getting a library card or $100 to take a child to the dentist – that could make a big difference. The experimental program, called Opportunity NYC, is modeled on a 10-year-old Mexican program call Oportunidades, which has been so successful in reducing poverty in rural areas that it had been adopted by more than 20 countries. International studies have found that these programs raise school enrollment and vaccination rates and lower the number of sick days students take.

A push to bring dads into kids’ school lives
The Christian Science Monitor – August 31, 2007
Around the country, many African-American men are embracing a national movement called the Million Father March that encourages people of all races, but particularly black men, to be active in children’s educational lives. Created four years ago, the Million Father March is sponsored by The Black Star Project, a Chicago group working to build strong students, encourage parental involvement, and improve life in African-American and Latino communities. The goal is to eliminate the racial academic achievement gap, says Black Star Project founder and director Phillip Jackson. Father participation matters, according to a 1997 NCES report, “Fathers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Schools.” Children from two-parent families and single-father homes who had fathers highly involved in school were more likely to get As and enjoy school, the study found. Children with involved nonresident fathers also fared better than peers with less involved dads. They were more likely to participate in extracurricular activities, and those in grades 6-12 were less likely to be suspended, expelled or repeat a grade.

Juvenile Justice

Ritter boosts youth justice
The Denver Post – August 30, 2007
In the first initiative of its kind nationally, Gov. Bill Ritter has created an executive clemency board exclusively for youth offenders, providing a possible way out of adult prison for teens currently serving life-without-parole sentences. Its goal is to find a middle ground for giving juveniles a shot at relief. Extraordinary circumstances, combined with modern scientific research showing juveniles’ brains – especially regions that process ethical decisionmaking – are not fully developed, warrant more lenient legal treatment for youths, advocates believe.

Helping girls in detention
Seattle Post-Intelligencer- August 29, 2007
The United State incarcerates more women than any other country. And, according to a recent report of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the proportion of girls to boys in custody is steadily rising in the juvenile justice system. This creates a somewhat invisible female population in a system developed for young men. Teenage girls in juvenile detention who are pregnant or parenting are especially vulnerable. Already engaged in risky behavior, and often with a history of victimization, substance abuse or family conflict, these girls are even less prepared to be parents than the average teen. A specific and standardized response to the needs of pregnant and parenting teens in the juvenile system would contribute greatly to achieving a positive outcome for those girls and their children. Simple measures, such as routine pregnancy screening of all girls admitted to detention facilities, could make a difference. Pregnant teens could receive advice on their options, be referred to public health programs, benefit from prenatal and post-partum care, and even be equipped with vital life skills through parenting classes and family planning education.

Foster Care

Moving from shelters to sanctuary
Star-Ledger – August 30, 2007
Under the settlement with Children’s Rights Inc., a national advocacy group that sued the state of New Jersey to improve its child welfare and foster care system, the state no longer uses dormitory-style shelters as emergency housing for children under age 13 and the state also agreed not to keep teenagers in shelters more than 45 days, while signing up more foster parents to take displaced kids into their homes. “Shelter care is bad for kids. Studies have shown that to be the case,” said Susan Lambiase, associate director for Children’s Rights. “Institutions don’t meet emotional needs.”

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