Sunday, January 13, 2008

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Court Revives Lawsuit Against No Child Left Behind Law
The New York Times – January 8, 2008
A federal appeals court on Monday revived a legal challenge to the federal No Child Left Behind education law, saying that school districts have been justified in complaining that the law required them to pay for testing and other programs without providing sufficient federal money. The 2-to-1 ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, gave new life to a 2005 lawsuit and appeared to be a setback to the Bush administration. School districts in Michigan, Texas and Vermont joined with the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, in their 2005 lawsuit. In it, they argued that Ms. Spellings had violated the United States Constitution in enacting the law by requiring states and school districts to spend local money to administer standardized tests and to meet other federal requirements. The suit was built in part around a paragraph in the law that says no state or district can be forced to spend its money on expenses the federal government has not covered.

Set bar higher on dropout rates
The Virginian-Pilot – January 12, 2008
Virginia has taken a lonely stand in the struggle to reduce high school dropouts, establishing an acceptable graduation rate as a condition of accreditation. Few states have dared embrace such high-stakes measures, making Virginia a national pioneer in the field of school accountability. The aim of all of this is to identify students most in danger of dropping out in early grades, and to give extra attention needed to keep them moving ahead in life, instead of falling behind. The Board of Education will spend the next several months dissecting and seeking public comments on a target of all high schools to achieve an 80 percent graduation rate.

Juvenile Justice

Fight against youth violence gets 2nd front – January 7, 2008
Minneapolis’s campaign against youth violence is about to his a higher gear. While police are finding success with their innovative strategy to reduce juvenile violence, a diverse committee is rolling out a plan to prevent the cycle from repeating. Today, Mayor R.T. Rybak will unveil the group’s 34 recommendations to the City Council. They range from developing more mentoring programs to conducting “bold door-to-door” street outreach. Some of the ideas could have an immediate impact, such as the creation of a hot line to give young people a confidential way to report trouble or seek help. The blueprint targets those ages 8 to 17 who face factors that place them at higher risk to commit a crime or be a victim. They include people bought to the juvenile center for curfew or truancy violations, gang members or those in an unstable family situation.

Neighborhood Accountability Boards offer a second chance
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – January 10, 2008
St. Louis – The girl anxiously tapped her bright pink fingernails on the folding table that separated the 15-year-old from her fate. She had stolen seven t-shirts from a Wal-Mart in August. But because she was a first-time offender, she was offered a chance to stay out of the court system and keep her record clean. To do so, she had to appear in the fellowship hall of Friendship Baptist Church, where a group of neighbors would determine her punishment. But first, they wanted an explanation. Shortly after the shoplifting, the girl’s mother was told about neighborhood boards, an initiative the juvenile division of St. Louis City Family Court started four years ago. The purpose is to provide a grass-roots alternative to juvenile detention. So far, the results are encouraging. From November 2003 to last June, the neighborhood boards have considered 212 juvenile cases. Of those, 14 percent of the offenders got into trouble again, compared with 30 percent who go through the court system.

Foster Care

Foster kids ill-prepared for adulthood
Miami Herald – January 5, 2008
In southern Sarasota, nearly one in four former foster kids is homeless. In St. Augustine, fewer than one in 10 foster children age 17 is performing at grade level. And in Miami, Tampa and Daytona Beach, fewer than one in four 17-year-old foster kids passed Florida’s high-stakes standardized assessment test. These are some of the findings of a recent survey of children age 13 to 23 in state care designed to gauge Florida’s success in preparing older foster children were interviewed during the survey, which also included a review of state records. Child welfare administrators and children’s advocates who have seen the report say it confirms long-standing fears that Florida has done a poor job of preparing foster children for the demands of adulthood and independence.

New York Life Foundation Grants $748,000 to Child Welfare League of America
PNN Online – January 11, 1008
The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) announced today that it was awarded a three-year, $748,000 grant from the New York Life Foundation to expand its mentoring program, Fostering Healthy Connections, to eight CWLA member agencies nationally. The curriculum of the mentoring program is the only one developed specifically to involve former foster youth as mentors for those who are currently in the foster care system. The curriculum was created in collaboration with FosterClub, a nonprofit organization with expertise working with foster care youth as a result of New York Life Foundation’s 2005 grant to CWLA. The program is expanding to eight agencies located in Schenectady and Stony Brook, New York; Des Moines, Iwoa; Peoria, Illinois; Melbourne, Florida; Holmes, Pennsylvania; Columbus, Ohio; and East Providence, Rhode Island.

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