Sunday, November 18, 2007

This Week's News:Youth in Transition


Report: States gaming NCLB system – November 13, 2007
On paper, Alabama last year showed remarkable gains in improving its schools. But a new report claims that Alabama – and a number of states – are manipulating statistics to make their schools appear better than they really are. The report released Tuesday (Nov. 13) by Education Sector, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C., contends that states are gaming the system under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the 2002 law that measures states’ annual progress toward getting all students reading and doing math at grade level by 1014. In a ranking based on 11 statistics that states annually report to the U.S. Education Department Alabama jumped to 5th place in the country in how well it appears to be meeting various education measures, up from 22nd place last year. “This didn’t happen because Alabama students learned much more in 2006 than they did in 2005,” the report said. It happened because the state exploited loopholes in the law and set low standards for its statewide test so that more students passed those tests, inflating the state’s record in meeting the law’s benchmarks, according to the report. “Many states did exactly the same things, said the group, which contends Congress needs to close these loopholes when lawmakers rewrite NCLB this year or next.

CPS may get culinary school for dropouts, at-risk kids
Chicago Tribune – November 12, 2007
For many Chicago high school dropouts or those at risk of leaving school, the thought of developing a career in the culinary field can be as foreign as a seven-course dinner at a fancy restaurant. Those thoughts could move a bit closer to home Wednesday, when the Chicago Board of Education is expected to approve plans for the first high school of its kind in the district – which would target dropouts and 11th graders on the verge of dropping out and provide vocational training in a specific career field, in this case the culinary arts. “They are going to offer high school diplomas and take students who may have historically struggled or may have dropped out and really give them the opportunity to graduate, not just with a high school diploma, but with real skills that will help them in the job market,” Duncan said. “It’s a chance for students to have a second crack at a very high-quality education.”

A second chance for Oakland’s dropouts
The Oakland Tribune – November 15, 2007
Oakland – Beginning next year, dozens of Oakland youth who drop out of school will have another chance to continue their education. And they won’t need to return to high school to do it. At a news conference on Wednesday at Laney College, Oakland school district and Laney officials announced an initiative that will allow dropouts to simultaneously earn high school and college credits at the community college – for free. The program is called Gateway to College. It began in Portland in 200 and has since taken root in a network of 18 other community college around the country, including Laney. This will be the first such partnership in California. Laney will receive $350,000 to start the program over the course of three years, but is main funding source is already in place. Normally, when a student leaves high school, the state dollars allocated for their education follow them out the door. But if dropouts sign up for Gateway to College, Laney will receive the same amount of money that would have gone to the school district.

Juvenile Justice

UI center holds sixth annual conference on racial disparities
Iowa Press-Citizen - November 16, 2007
Less than three weeks ago, Iowa Gov. Chet Culver ordered the establishment of the Youth Race and Detention Task Force to address the over-representation of minority youth in Iowa’s juvenile detention centers. Recent reports have also drawn attention to the fact that minority students are more likely to be suspended or expelled from school and be involved in the child welfare system. State and national leaders in the fields of juvenile justice, child welfare, education, health, and family and human services will gather Nov. 28-30 in Des Moines to discuss the disproportionate numbers of minority youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and ways to address the disparity. They will pay special attention to how the issue connects with school systems.

Prof’s study shows deficiencies in law system
The Daily Northwestern – November 13, 2007
Illinois is not fulfilling its obligation to provide defense attorneys to juveniles charged with delinquent offenses, according to a report written by attorneys from the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern School of Law and the National Juvenile Defender Center. The report, “An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings” cites several Illinois counties where minors are assigned attorneys minutes before – and sometimes, not until – their meeting with a judge. “There is absolutely no way a lawyer has information to effectively represent their client,” said NU law professor Cathryn Crawford, co-author of the report. “There is no information to argue with the judge. The judge is not provided information to make an individualized determination of the case.”

Foster Care

Racial disparities in foster care
The Philadelphia Inquirer – November 14, 2007
Racial or ethnic prejudices, conscious or unconscious – even ignorance can lead social workers to see abuse or neglect where none exists, the experts say. They caution that stereotyping on the part of social workers is just one factor in the racial gap, and probably a small one at that. Other factors – higher rates of poverty, inadequate housing and child care, for example – are believed to be major contributors to abuse and neglect among minorities. Nationally, blacks make up about 15 percent of the childhood population, yet account for 34 percent of children in foster care, according to the GAO. Black children on average stay in foster care 9 months longer than whites. “Bias or cultural misunderstandings and distrust between child welfare decision makers and the families they serve,” the report said, was one of several factors accounting for the gap, as were poverty and lack of access to services. Strategies to reduce the gap include cultural competency programs, creating multicultural teams of social workers, recruiting minority families as foster parents, and relying more heavily on relatives who can step in during a crisis.

President Bush Helps Launch National Adoption Day 2007
PRNewswire – November 16, 2007
Washington – The National Adoption Day Coalition joined President George W. Bush at the White House today honoring the annual nationwide celebration of adoption from foster care known as National Adoption Day. On Saturday, November 17, hundreds of communities in all 50 states will hold courtroom celebrations to finalize more than 3,330 adoptions of children from foster care, bring the total number of finalized adoptions as part of the National Adoption Day activities to more than 20, 000. Right now, there are 114,000 children waiting in the foster care system that are legally and permanently separated from their biological parents. Unless they are connected with adoptive parents they will not only lose the opportunity for family joys as simple as Thanksgiving dinner, but they will also be at an increased risk for being undereducated, unemployed, homeless and/or involved in substance abuse or criminal activity.

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