Monday, September 10, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Pitch to dropouts: We want you to come back
Chicago Sun-Times – September 9, 2007
Harden and a group of volunteers went door-to-door to the homes of 12 students who were close to graduation and had dropped out. Ten were reached, and four returned to school to find out their options. Every student who misses school costs the system $95 a day, officials estimated, and a 1 percentage point drop in yearly attendance costs $18 million in funding, meaning Saturday’s door-to-door effort to boost attendance served academic and financial needs.

Blacks in suburbs failing Md. Exams
The Baltimore Sun – September 5, 2007
An alarming pattern of failure is surfacing: Minority students, especially African-Americans, are struggling to pass the exams in the suburban classrooms their families had hoped would provide a better education. Educators point to the gap in achievement between African-Americans and whites as one reason for the slump among inner suburban schools – although not the only one. “It’s about establishing expectations and communicating those to parents, teachers and students,” said Cheswick, in her second year at the helm of the four-year-old school. “As a principal, I have high expectations of students, regardless of their background.”

Virtual schooling growing at K-12 level
The Kansas City Star – September 7, 2007
Virtual learning is becoming ubiquitous at colleges and universities but remains in its infancy at the elementary and secondary level, where skeptics have questioned its cost and effect on children’s socialization. However, virtual schools are growing fast – at an annual rate of about 25 percent. There are 25 statewide or state-led programs and more than 170 virtual charter schools across the nation, according to the North American Council on Online Learning. Online learning is used as an alternative for summer school and for students who need remedial help, are disabled, being home schooled or suspended for behavioral problems, It also can help avoid overcrowding in traditional classrooms and provide courses that local school, often rural or inner-city, do not offer.

Juvenile Justice

Group Seeks to Reduce Number of Minorities in Juvenile Justice System
Broward Times – September 9, 2007
Concerned citizens, activists and parents gathered this week to find ways of steering young people away from the juvenile justice system. The BluePrint Commission of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice came to Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday during a tour of six cities in the state to help find solutions for the overrepresentation of minorities in the system. The commission was created in response to key concerns such as repeat juvenile offenders, the overrepresentation of minority youth and the alarming growth of girls in the juvenile justice population. Brogan suggested that more youth could be kept out of the system by focusing on crime trends, detention data, screening tools, services and alternatives to detention.

Part of juvenile system quashed
The Courier-Journal – September 6, 2007
A Franklin Circuit judge has struck down Kentucky’s system for classifying and housing juveniles who commit sex, offenses, finding it deprives the youths of proper treatment. Shepard found juvenile justice officials have begun classifying youths who commit even minor sex offenses, such as fondling, as “juvenile sex offenders,” a category under law generally reserved for older children who commit serious offenses. That classification allows the department to send the youths to a secure facility where they are required to enter sex offender treatment programs for up to three years. But the practice exceeds the legal definition of what constitutes a juvenile sex offender, Shepherd said. Juvenile Justice officials also made no exceptions for youths with mental retardation—even though the law says they may not be classified as juvenile sex offenders, the judge said.

Foster Care

Court: Teen parenthood terminated too quickly
Lexington Herald-Leader – September 8, 2007
The youth and immaturity of a teen parent cannot alone be grounds for taking away parental rights, the Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled. A decision last week to reverse the termination of parental rights for a girl who was 14 when her son was born could have implications for the more than 10,000 teens who become pregnant in Kentucky each year and who are at risk of permanently losing custody, said the teen’s court-appointed attorney John Helmers. The ruling involved a teen who was in foster care along with her infant, though much of the time they were assigned to different homes. As of Thursday, there were 118 instances in Kentucky in which the state had placed a baby in foster care whose parent was also in foster care, state officials said.

Program helps kids too old to stay in foster system
USA Today – September 9, 2007
The St. Louis Aging Out Initiative focuses on young people in state custody who don’t have the resources needed to make a smooth transition to life on their own once they “age out,” or are legally emancipated from the foster care system. The initiative is recruiting 100 16-year-olds this year and another 100 in 2008. The hope is that participants will be more likely to have a high school diploma, to make use of educational training vouchers, to be able to secure steady jobs and housing.

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