Saturday, November 10, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


For a Key Education Law, Reauthorization Stalls
New York Times – November 6, 2007
The leaders of the Senate and House education committees are signaling that time has run out for reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act this year, leaving prospects for rewriting it uncertain during the presidential campaign in 2008. It passed Congress with bipartisan support in 2001 and will remain in effect even without Congressional action. But the administration and Democrats in Congress had repeatedly promised to make important changes to it this year, including some that would alter judging student performance. Despite dozens of hearings, month of public debate and hundreds of hours of Congressional negotiation, neither the House nor the Senate has produced a bill that would formally start the reauthorization process.

More dropouts after exit exam
Los Angeles Daily News – November 7, 2007
Sacramento – The number of California high school dropouts spiked in 2006, the first year serious were required to pass the state’s exit exam to graduate, according to a report presented Wednesday to the state Board of Education. The report’s findings validate the position of exit exam opponents who say the test is hardest on students who do not have access to good schools or good teachers, said Liz Guillen, director of legislative and community affairs for Public Advocates. That applies mostly to poor and minority students, she said. The San Francisco-based law firm has sued the state over the exam and sought alternatives.

Tuning in can stem dropping out
Boston Globe – November 5, 2007
The morning roundup is but one aspect that makes the South Brooklyn Community High School unusual. The staff at the experimental school is charged with getting involved in some of the most personal details of students’ lives, going so far as to show up at the homes of those who fail to report to class. The five-year-old school and more than two dozen like it in New York are this city’s most innovative attempt to remedy a dangerously high dropout rate – a problem that not only wreaks havoc with the students who quit, but with the society that ends up supporting them. In New York, where only half of all high school students graduate in four years, the South Brooklyn Community High School represents a sanctuary of sorts from students’ past failures and fading hopes. The school takes some of the city’s worst students – those who have been chronically truant and struggling academically. Yet, 69 percent of them graduate. If they remained in a regular high school, their chances of graduating would have slipped to 19 percent, according the city’s Department of Education.

Juvenile Justice

Group urges reforms to fight juvenile crime
Times Union – November 7, 2007
Law enforcement officials have called for a complete overhaul of the state’s juvenile justice system. A report, released last week, found that four out of 10 repeat crimes committed by juvenile delinquents could be prevented if reforms were adopted. The average cost statewide in New York to keep a juvenile in custody for a year is $150,000, according to the report. It pointed out that amount of money “would pay for over eight years of room, board and tuition” at the State University in Albany, said Meredith Wiley, a state director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, the New York chapter of the national organization. “Getting Juvenile Justice Right in New York: Proven Interventions Will Cut Crime and Save Money” found that dangerous young offenders need to be locked up, but too many don’t get intensive interventions to address their aggression, substance abuse and anti-social behavior. Placing other juvenile offenders, who do not need to be detained, in custody is ineffective and expensive, the report said. Community-based rehabilitation programs and special foster care would cut recidivism, crime and costs, the report said.

State must alter system for juvenile sex offenders
Courier-Journal – November 7, 2007
A Franklin Circuit Court judge again has ordered the Kentucky Juvenile Justice Department to abandon a “one size fits all” system it uses to classify and house juveniles who commit sex offenses. Judge Phillip J. Shepherd reaffirmed his earlier decision to strike down the department’s practice of housing minor offenders in a treatment program along with older youths who commit serious sex crimes. The practice violates state law and was not intended by lawmakers, who established a treatment-oriented system based on the child’s needs and the nature of the offense, Shepherd said in an order Thursday. Shepherd’s ruling comes as he is considering a broader challenge to the department’s entire system of classifying and housing youths by public defenders, who argue it funnels too many youths into state juvenile centers when they could be served at home or in their communities.

Foster Care

City’s foster care is faulted
Baltimore Sun – November 6, 2007
Baltimore foster children are still being sheltered at state office building and still missing medical and dental appointments, according to lawyers charged with monitoring a long-standing court decree on care for these children. In a more than 400-page document filed yesterday in federal court, the lawyers say the state Department of Human Resources and Baltimore’s Department of Social Services have persistently failed to comply with a 1988 agreement that called for swift reform in the care of foster children. State officials must respond to the contempt filing, and a federal judge is expected to consider the allegations. Attorneys hope the judge will appoint a full-time monitor who will follow up on the state’s efforts to improve foster child welfare in Baltimore, Such a system has worked well in other states, including Alabama and Utah, they said.

Should foster kids give DNA samples?
News-Journal – November 8, 2007
Daytona Beach – When children are removed from abusive or neglectful parents, an investigator takes their fingerprints and photographs for identification. But what if children, on their way to homes with foster parents or relatives, had to open their mouths and give a saliva swab? The idea of collecting foster children’s DNA is one a task force has recommended the state Department of Children & Families and other agencies consider studying. Some child advocates fear such a step would not only invade a foster child’s privacy, but make him or her feel even more like they’ve done something wrong, as opposed to being a victim. The DCF Task Force on Child Protection contends in a report that DNA is a “more thorough and under certain circumstances, successful technology for positively identifying a person” than fingerprints. The task force is looking at gaps in the current system and ways to improve children’s safety.

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