Monday, May 26, 2008

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


College Immaterial for High School Students in Vocational Training
Houston Press – May 15, 2008
Next fall, thanks to a $200,000 industry grant, Charles Milby High will open the country’s first Academy for Petroleum Exploration and Production Technology. Milby’s student body is 99 percent black and Hispanic and 79 percent poor. Last year, a Johns Hopkins University study dubbed it a “dropout factory” where more than 40 percent of freshmen don’t make it to their senior year. The new petroleum academy, which will teach students about lucrative careers in an industry clamoring for technical workers, could prove a powerful incentive for kids to stay in school. In Texas, the high-school dropout rate for African Americans and Hispanics ranges as high as 50 percent. Research show that a mix of career and technical education classes and academic courses lowers the dropout rate. A 1998 University of Michigan study found that high-risk students were eight to ten times less likely to drop out in 11th and 12th grades if they enroll in a career and technical education program instead of a general program.

Career Education Urged to Lower Dropout Rate
Education Week – May 20, 2008
In cooperation with the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers, the Southern Regional Education Board, in Atlanta, issued a report last week calling for states and schools to increase substantially the quality of their career and technical education. The report notes that the latest reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act requires that schools and two-year colleges accepting Perkins money must, for the first time, integrate rigorous academic and career and technical instruction, and link secondary and postsecondary education. It cites a recent study by the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education showing that high school students at all levels of achievement were less likely to drop out if they took a combination of academic and career or technical courses. The report encourages states to provide incentives for districts and high schools to work together with two-year colleges, technology centers, and employers to craft occupation-specific courses.

Target demographic: Pasco teens talk to peers about high school dropout rates
Tri City Herald – May 25, 2008
Mayra Rivera thought about dropping out of high school. The 17-year-old has faced “a lot of obstacles” in getting her education, including having a baby four months ago, she said. But she stuck with school and now wants to help other teens make the same choice. That’s why Rivera and some classmates at New Horizons High School in Pasco have created posters, TV and radio spots and T-shirts aimed at curbing dropout rates and reaching students with the message their destination should be graduation. The students became involved after the Pasco School District received a $270,000 state grant earlier this year to improve on-time graduation rates and work on dropout prevention with Columbia Basin College, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties and other community partners. The goals of the grant include lowering dropout rates among students who are particularly at-risk – such as freshman and those in special education, juvenile justice and foster care – and bring dropouts back to school.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile courts can confuse kids, parents, report says
Ventura County Star – May 20, 2008
Two years in the making, a report on California’s juvenile courts warn that children and parents are often bewildered by what happens in the courtrooms, and judges and attorneys don’t always have access to all the information they need to make decisions. The California Judicial Council’s stem-to-stern inspection is the first full-scale examination of court procedures and effectiveness. Many courts are failing in their basic responsibility to make sure children and parents know what is happening to them, according to the report, which was released in April. Fifty-eight recommendations emerged in the study, some of them based on simple but new concepts. “Up in Sacramento, they hand out restaurant-style beepers to preserve anonymity as kids wait for their cases to come up in court,” Back said. “There are some practical suggestions on the list, like using looping videos in courthouse waiting areas to explain to people just exactly what is going on inside the courtroom,” Back said. Such tapes are already available in Ventura County, in English and Spanish.

Foster Care

Adoption Outreach: Goal is to get more black kids placed
Omaha World-Herald – May 18, 2008
The pressing need for permanent homes for black children is nothing new in a country where more than a half-million children – a third of them black – are in state foster care systems at any given time. One 2007 federal government study indicated that black children were more than twice as likely as their white peers to wind up in foster care. And, on average, they remained in foster care nine months longer. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, working with court officials and private agencies, is ramping up efforts to streamline the adoption of foster-care children and better tell their stories on Internet listings. The African-American Empowerment Network, a 20-month-old Omaha coalition that advocates self-help solutions to societal problems, and Sigma Treatment Foster Care of Omaha, the state’s only black-owned foster agency, promote adoption. Iowa also is aiming to reduce its own disproportionate rate of black children in state care with an effort called parent partners. African-American parents who regained their children from foster care are serving as coaches for other parents trying to get their children back.

Foster care can pose more options than adoption
Battle Creek Enquirer – May 18, 2008
Although the state tries to place foster children in the care of relatives, there is a stark difference in financial support and regulatory standards between kinship, or relative, care providers and licensed foster care providers. A recent evaluation of the Michigan Department of Human Services by John Goad, titled “Michigan Department of Human Services: An evaluation of the capacity to assure the safety of foster children,” states thousands of foster children placed in the care of relatives by MDHS are treated as “second class citizens” compared to those in licensed foster care homes and receive far less protection than children placed with licensed care providers. In addition to failing to provide adequate financial support to unlicensed relative care providers, the report stated MDHS allows placement of foster children with relatives known to be dangerous, with relatives about whom little or nothing is known and fails to provide “even the inadequate safeguards the agency provides children in licensed foster homes.”

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