Sunday, June 29, 2008

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Report: Racial gap narrows, but what did No Child law do?
USA Today – June 29, 2008
Math and reading test scores are up in most states since the No Child Left Behind law took effect in 2002, but it’s impossible to know how much credit the law deserves, a new report says. In an exhaustive study released Tuesday, the Center on Education Policy also concluded that the historically wide achievement gap between black and white children has generally narrowed in many states – exactly what NCLB supporters said they wanted to achieve when President Bush signed the law. But the law’s contributions are hard to measure because a number of states already were taking steps to boost reading math, the study’s authors say. And because every public school falls under the law, there is no group of students to use for comparison, they said. What the law clearly has done – the change some identify as its most notable benefit – is give researchers and parents the data to track student progress. By requiring testing in math and reading every year from third eighth grade and once in high school, the law provides a wealth of information about a school’s performance over time, broken down by such factors as race, income and disability.

Alternative schools gain popularity – June 29, 2008
The Salem-Keizer School District is offering more alternative high school programs than ever this year, and one reason is to give students more options to find the right fit. With a build-it-and-they-will-come mentality, enrollment in alternative programs grew by nearly one-third last year after they were restructured and more were added. The district restructured its offerings from one degree-earning high school into two: Roberts and Early College high schools. New and expanded programs, combined with district staff dedicated to re-enrolling drop-outs, helped enrollment at alternative programs grow by 30 percent in a year, school officials say. Nearly 100 more students completed their high school degree through the two schools this year, administrator Dave Cook said. About 250 high school degrees were granted so far this year, compared to 160 degrees in 2006-07. Figures do not include GED completion, students who took alternative classes but graduated with their traditional high school class, or those that will finish in summer school this year.

Report: Class of ’08 dropouts lose state $11B over lifetime
Daily Chronicle – June 28, 2008
If every Illinois student who entered high school in 2004 had earned a diploma this yea, the state’s economy could have benefited from an additional $11 billion in the long run. That money would have come in the form of wager, taxes and productivity during these students’ lifetimes, according to a study released this money by the Alliance For Excellent Education, an organization that advocates for at-risk middle and high school students by promoting education funding and reform to ensure graduation. About 1.2 million students in the U.S. dropped out of the Class of 2008, states the study. The average annual income of a high school dropout in 2005 was about $10,000 less than a high school graduate’s according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The more students that graduate, the higher the earning potential, which leads to increased purchasing power and higher tax receipts, according to the alliance’s report, titled “The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools.”

Juvenile Justice

House sets standards for juvenile boot camps
The Morning Call – June 25, 2008
The House approved national standards on juvenile boot camps and other and private programs intended to help troubled youth. Lawmakers acted Wednesday following reports of abuse and deaths involving young people with behavioral, emotional or mental problems. The legislation, which passed 318-103, would bar excessive “tough love” practices such as denying essential water, food, clothing, shelter or medical care. Physical restraint would be allowed only when the safety of the child or others is at issue. Also, children would have to have reasonable access to a telephone. The White House expressed opposition and the Senate has yet to consider the measure.

Foster Care

Ex-foster kids no longer alone
The Daily News – June 25, 2008
It was bad enough that Rene Howard had to hopscotch through eight foster homes in one year. What has worked out, however, is that Howard has joined a growing number of Los Angeles County foster children able to pursue lifelong dreams. Thanks to support from the Los Angeles County Education Coordinating Council, other advocates and coaches, Howard has won a conditional football scholarship next year to the University of Miami. On Wednesday, the council hosted its first Countywide Resource Fair in which an estimated 800 foster kids and probationers joined advocates and agencies downtown to help find landing a job or getting into college. “Howard is a success,” said Councilman Jose Huizar, chairman of the Education Coordinating Council, formed four years ago to help close the widening education gap of foster kids and young probationers. “These kids are talented and smart. We just have to develop their talents so they can reach their God-given potential.” Among the report’s recommendation: County departments should work together to offer foster children better mentoring, vocational, on-the-job and educational opportunities.

Disparities found in child welfare
Seattle Times - June 26, 2008
Whether children of color are overrepresented in the child-welfare system is a topic that’s long been discussed in certain circles. An extensive report released Wednesday answers the question of racial disproportionality definitively. The study, which was required by a 007 law, began by looking at 58,000 calls to state Child Protective Services (CPS) in 2004 that reported suspected abuse or neglect. The study group, which included experts and representatives from the community, then tracked those cases through the process to see whether children of color fared differently from white children. Were the calls accepted for investigation? Were children removed from the home? Did they remain in care for more than two years? Overall, the study indicated that African-American and Native American children are more likely than white children to enter the child-welfare system and to be removed from their homes for long periods. Asian-American children, on the other hand, were no more likely to be removed, and they were less likely to remain in long-term care than white children. Hispanic children fared somewhere in the middle, faring worse than whites but better than African and Native Americans. The study reveals that much of the disparity stems from the very beginning of the process – the initial complaint to CPS.

Waits Plague Transfers of Children to Relatives’ Care
The New York Times – June 27, 2008
Minimizing moves and placing children with a qualified parent or relative are bedrock principles of child welfare. But transferring custody between states, even if, as in this case, it is short drive across the District of Columbia line, requires a cumbersome legal procedure that lacks the urgency and appeals process accorded placements within a state, and it is under growing attack from specialists in children’s law and welfare. Each year, thousands of children taken from troubled homes are eventually placed with a parent or close relative in another state, often for eventual adoption. Most of the transfers take months and some take more than a year because of what experts say are outmoded rules. Such transfers are governed by the little-known Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children. The pact, adopted decades ago as law by every state, was designed to protect foster children from unsafe placements, but it is being challenged by many experts as inflicting unnecessary emotional harm on children, and for not requiring the court oversight that is normal in other custody cases.

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