Monday, August 11, 2008

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Shared data: A new system could provide advance warning on school dropouts
Capitol Weekly – August 7, 2008
The state Department of Education’s recent announcement that one in four students drops out of school was grim news for Californians but a promising step forward in understanding the scope of a crisis. Instead of making an educated guess as they had been forced to do in the past, education officials were able to calculate the dropout rate by using a new system that tracks students as they as they move from district to district. When fully implemented, the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System can do much more than tell us the bad news after students drop out. It can help educators identify strategies likely to help children before they fail. A debate in Sacramento about access to the new data will determine whether the tracking system reaches its potential-to help educators close a wide achievement gap and policymakers ensure that billions of dollars in education funding are spend on programs that work.

Task force holds hearings on keeping pregnant, parenting moms from dropping out
The Chicago Tribune – August 5, 2008
Shanell Stampley desperately wanted to stay in high school after giving birth just before her freshman year. But making it to school on time, or at all, was a constant struggle for the 15-year-old, who lived in a women’s shelter at the time and rode a bus to drop off her baby with a sitter. After too many late arrivals and missed classes, Stampley said, she was expelled from Juarez Community Academy in Chicago. She has told her story to a state task force that is studying how to keep students in school during pregnancy and parenthood, or when facing domestic violence or sexual abuse. Task force members say they hope that the discussions will lead to policy recommendations and legislative support for young parents and those dealing with abuse. “We’re going out in the field to find out from those children who are directly impacted,” said Sonya Whitaker, and educational consultant and co-chairwoman of the state task force with state Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood). “We want to give children a second chance at being successful.”

GEAR UP Guides Low-Income Students to College
RedOrbit – August 6, 2008
Navigating a smooth course through high school and higher education can be a daunting task for event the highly motivated, but calming the turbulence of career choices for Yuma students is made easier due to a federal program. Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is intended to boost the number of low-income students (schools with more than 50 percent receiving free or reduced lunch) to succeed in post-secondary education. GEAR UP provides college scholarships funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education and matched dollar for dollar by individuals in the professions and local districts with either time or money. The program advocates for a higher level of achievement, said Alvina Johnson, Yuma’s GEAR UP coordinator. The mission of GEAR UP is to ensure students graduate high school on time, reduce the rate of dropouts and increase the entrance of students into a two- or four-year college, Johnson stressed.

Juvenile Justice

Perry grants $1.7 million for state juvenile justice system; EP gets $180,000
ABC Channel 7 – August 8, 2008
EL PASO – Governor Rick Perry awarded more than $1.7 million in grants to 25 programs dedicated to promoting greater accountability in the juvenile justice system, according to a news release. Three agencies in El Paso that deal with juveniles received more than $180,000. The grants are awarded through the federal Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) program and distributed by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD), the release said. The JABG funding provides restitution, community service, victim-offender mediation and other methods of rehabilitation and reform through the juvenile justice system.

Foster Care

Close the Educational Opportunity Gap for College-Bound Foster Youth
MarketWatch – August 6, 2008
It is back-to-school time and many young people are saying goodbye to their families and heading off to college. Others, however, are making the journey alone: thousands of foster care teens who have “aged out” of the system. For many of these youth, education has been the one promising constant in their lives – and now, at the threshold of adulthood, it is a struggle to find financial and emotional support to sustain their educational and career goals. At any given point, there are more than 500,000 U.S. children in foster care. Every year, more than 25,000 of them age out of the system and face a challenging world without the financial or family support. Only half of them finish high school and only about 13 percent start college. Of those who do go to college, half drop out in the first year. For those involved in OFA’s programs, however, these numbers improve dramatically. More than 65 percent graduate from college within five years, a rate comparable to their peers.

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