Sunday, September 23, 2007

This Week's News:Youth in Transition


Saving ninth-graders: Metro schools try to ease transition to high school
The Detroit News – September 19, 2007
Dearborn High School teachers and administrators were startled three years ago to learn that more than a third of their freshman failed one or more classes - a rate three times that of other grades. In 2005-06, Michigan schools saw 21,000 more students in ninth grad than eighth. The number of students in 10th grade dropped by nearly 15,000, as some dropped out or were held back. Experts and school officials say ninth-graders face greater peer pressure and tougher coursework. Some fail classes, and successive failures – along with the discomfort of being older than their peers- cause some to give up and drop out, experts say. Researchers at John Hopkins University found in 2004 that as many as 40 percent of freshman repeat ninth grade in cities with the worst dropout rates, and 10 percent to 15 percent of those students eventually get a diploma. Some Metro Detroit districts are tackling the ninth-grade bulge by creating smaller learning environments to help students transition to high school. These include a Freshman Academy in a separate hallway to seclude ninth-grades for three core academic courses, a special campus orientation and a peer-mentoring program linking ninth-graders with upperclassman.

“Inside Out” day aims to decrease dropouts
Cullman Times – September 21, 2007
Students at Good Hope Middles School made an important decision Friday, one that may affect the rest of their lives, when they signed a pledge to not drop out of school. The students in grades 6-8 made the declaration to stay in school after watching “Inside Out,” a 34-minute documentary about incarcerated dropouts. The prisoners featured in the film discussed how the decision to quit school negatively impacted their lives and played a part in getting them where they are today. The movie is the work of the Birmingham-based Mattie B. Stewart Foundation, an organization founded by the Birmingham radio personality Shelly Stewart for the sole purpose of influencing more students to finish high school.

Oregon Schools Adopt Mexican Curriculum, Stirring Debate
Fox News – September 21, 2007
Portland—Some Oregon high schools are adopting Mexico’s public school curriculum to help educate Spanish-speaking students with textbooks, an online web site, DVDs and CDs provided free by Mexico to teach math, science and even U.S. history. Similar ventures are under way in Yakima, Wash., San Diego, Calif., and Austin, Texas. The Oregon Department of Education and Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education are discussing aligning their curricula so courses will be valid in both countries. Oregon officials say the approach is intended as a supplement to keep students learning in Spanish while also gaining English skills.

Juvenile Justice

Professor to boost juvenile justice
Orlando Sentinel – September 18, 2007
Kids pleading guilty without talking to a lawyer. Teenagers waiving their rights without understanding the consequences. Little trial preparation by attorneys. These findings from a 2006 study of Florida’s juvenile-justice system make Gerald F. Glynn cringe. That’s why Glynn, an associate professor at Barry University School of Law in Orlando, is leading the charge for a new center to focus on improving legal representation for children in the juvenile justice system. “People need to remember that juvenile-justice system is about providing services and rehabilitation service to children at risk,” Glynn said. “The idea is to catch them and serve them before they become lifelong criminals.” Starting with a $779,000 grant from the Eckerd Family Foundation in Clearwater, Glynn is setting up training programs for lawyers who serve these and other children in the justice system.

Juvenile parolees’ constitutional rights violated, court rules
San Jose Mercury News – September 20, 2007
Sacramento—California violates juvenile offenders’ constitutional rights by not giving them a prompt hearing when they are accused of parole violations, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento gave the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 30 days to come up with a constitutionally acceptable process. Some juvenile offenders are in custody for months before they get a hearing, Karlton found. More than half are accused of technical violations of their parole, and in 75 percent of those cases they are eventually released to simply continue their parole, Karlton said in his ruling.

Foster Care

Youth Program aimed at getting foster children back in school
The News-Daily – September 16, 2007
In Clayton County, foster youth who drop out of high school are being targeted as part of a pilot program established by officials from DFCS to get them back into the classroom. Foster youth who have not been attending school for some time are sent to the Riverdale-based Youth Empowerment Project for tutoring before returning to school. The program will also help them prepare for the General Educational Development equivalency diploma (GED) exam. About half of all 15 year olds in foster homes are likely to graduate form high school, while the rest will either drop out or be incarcerated, according to Casey Family Programs, a group that studies foster care issues. Officials have been pleased with the program so far and are considering taking it to a regional level.

Foster Children Find Latino-friendly Homes
New America Media – September 17, 2007
In almost two years and a half, La Cuna has been able to secure a stable, safe place for 50 Latino children that are part of the County of San Diego’s foster care system. La Cuna, which means “the cradle,” in Spanish, was established to address the shortage of quality foster homes serving Latino babies and toddlers. Its mission it “to develop programs that allow foster infants to grow up healthy and happy, and to evaluate the results and create best practices that will improve the lives of Hispanic foster infants throughout California.” According to La Cuna information, the most current statistics for San Diego County, the breakdown of local children in foster care show that 2, 423 are Latino children, 1,723 are white and 1,423 are black children.

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