Monday, November 05, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


ECS Launches One-of-a-kind, Nationwide High School Database to Boost Efforts by State Policymakers
EdNews – November 2, 2007
Denver, CO – Today the Education Commission of the States (ECS) goes live with three high school databases to assist state policymakers with questions about International Baccalaureate, student accountability, and student support and remediation. ECS also launches an updated database on promising local reform initiatives at the state and district level from around the country. “These databases address emerging or peaking issues for state policymakers,” ECS High School Policy Center Project Manager Jennifer Dounay said. “For instance, many states are concerned with dropout prevention and how to help young people drop back into the system after they’ve dropped out. The student support and remediation database helps policymakers assess what work is being done across the states to tackle this issue, along with a host of related topics.”

Bridging gaps in colleges is goal
Orlando Sentinel – November 1, 2007
Florida and 18 other public university systems are pledging to increase the number of minority and low-income students who graduate from college. The new initiative –dubbed Access to Success – calls for schools to provide detailed annual reports so the public can gauge progress. Organizers said these reports will make schools accountable and keep attention focused on the goals. The reports also would track graduation rates for low-income students, something that isn’t routinely done, organizers said. Access to Success is a project of the National Association of System Heads, a group of top administrators from higher-education systems across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

New Small Schools in N.Y.C. Post Higher Graduation Rate
Education Week – October 31, 2007
Small high schools that opened in New York City in 2002 as part of a closely watched secondary school improvement effort there are graduating far more of their students on time than other city high schools, researchers have found. At schools that are part of the city’s New Century High Schools initiative, 78 percent of students graduate in four years, compared with 58 percent at New York City high schools on average, according to the final report of an evaluation by Policy Studies Associates Inc., a Washington-based research group that has been studying the 10-year initiative since it began. The New Century schools enroll unusually high portions of poor and minority students and students with weaker academic skills, Yet in addition to outpacing the citywide graduation rate by 20 percentage points, they also produce a graduation rate nearly 18 percentage points higher then 10 schools with demographically similar students that were chosen by researchers as a comparison group. The study also found that only 3 percent of the New Century high school class of 2006 had dropped out over a four-year period, compared with nearly 15 percent citywide in 2005.

Juvenile Justice

Missouri Sees Teen Offenders as Kids, Not Inmates
NPR – October 30, 2007
The Northwest Regional Youth Center is where Missouri sends some of its most troubled – and troublesome – juvenile offenders. Street thugs from St. Louis mix with gang members from Kansas City and pint-sized, rural car thieves, yet there’s a sense of calmness. It’s part of Missouri’s treatment-orientated approach toward juveniles where lockups are designed to resemble college dorms and offenders are treated firmly, seriously and humanely. The result of Missouri’s focus on rehabilitation is a 7.3 percent recidivism rate. “The basic logic of youth corrections is that if you treat young people like inmates, they’ll act like prisoners,” Krisberg says. “If you treat them like young people capable of being citizens, they’ll much more likely act like citizens.”

Report: Juveniles jailed more than they should be
Daily Southtown – October 31, 2007
Children are routinely denied justice by juvenile courts in Illinois and are jailed when they shouldn’t be, a major study published today says. Kids younger than 17 are inappropriately shackled, locked up and often poorly defended by attorneys who misunderstand their role, the Illinois Juvenile Defense Assessment Project says. The 150-page report- which saw researchers from Northwestern University anonymously interview hundreds of children and juvenile-laws professionals statewide and also takes in courtroom observations and statistical data – says children often are refused rights adults take for granted. Many defense attorneys continue to believe that incarceration in the child’s best interest, forcing kids to plead guilty before the facts of a case have been tested, the report says. Judges in juvenile court tend to discourage the “zealous advocacy’ upon which the system is based. Parents unwilling or unable to pay legal fees also often urge their children to quickly plead guilty, the study found. Other problems cited by the study included overworked, underpaid public defenders, the fact that children usually meet their attorneys only moments before they appear before a judge and the complicated legal language judges and attorneys often used, confusing accused children.

Rhode Island lawmakers repeal law imprisoning teens
Times Argus – October 31, 2007
Rhode Island lawmakers voted Tuesday to repeal a recently enacted law that sent 17-year-old criminal offenders to adult prisons, a flawed cost-cutting step that seemed unlikely to save money and was denounced as unfair by childhood advocates. In a rushed session, the General Assembly decided that 17-year-olds charged with crimes should be sent to Family Court and the State Training School, a juvenile detention facility, overturning a policy that started almost four months ago. Under the law adopted Tuesday, the adult court records of 17-year-olds will be effectively hidden from public view once their cases are closed, making it easier for them to apply for jobs or get federal student loans. But House lawmakers rejected a more extensive repeal backed by the Senate that would have applied retroactively to almost 50 teenagers charged with adult offenses since July 1, when the now-repealed law took effect.

Foster Care

Payments lag for foster parents
Citizen-Times – October 28, 2007
The money North Carolina pays foster parents to care for children covers only about two-thirds of the actual cost, a new study shows. Only one state, Arizona, and the District of Columbia were paying the actual cost of caring for a child, the study found. Nationally, the rate averages 36 percent below what it should be. North Carolina is in the middle tier of states when it comes to reimbursing caregivers for foster children, According to the report, it is among 23 states that must raise rates 50-100 percent to meet parents’ costs; five states would have to more than double their rates. The report, “Hitting the MARC: Establishing Foster Care Minimum Adequate Care Rates for Children,” was released by Children’s Rights, the National Foster Parent Association and the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

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