Sunday, August 24, 2008

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Law shuts out some students
The Arizona Daily Star – August 10, 2008
Changing laws have made life tougher for illegal immigrants in Arizona, including young people giving up dreams of college and better lives because they are unable to pay out-of-state tuition as required by voters. With privately funded grants and scholarships lagging far behind the demand, some would-be students have dropped out, and others are considering a return to homelands they hardly remember in search of opportunity. Proposition 300 requires students to prove they are citizens or legal residents in the United States to qualify for in-state tuition at Arizona community colleges and universities. If they cannot, they must pay the higher out-of-state tuition fees. An in-state, part-time student can expect to pay $297 for six units while an out-of-state student will pay $504 for the same number of course units in college. Voters approved the proposition after backers said the state should not be taking taxpayers resources and giving them to people who broke the law. The estimated 200,000 to 250,000 illegal immigrants living in Arizona at the time were costing the state substantial amounts of money, backers said. Other states, including Colorado, Georgia and Oklahoma, also have laws denying in-state tuition benefits to students who entered the country illegally with their parents but grew up and were schooled in the state.

Changes go in effect this year for upcoming freshman, sophomores
Shreveport Times – August 15, 2008
Two big changes will happen in high school this year. Incoming freshman will be required to obtain 24 class credits for graduation. And sophomores enrolled in English II will be required to pass an end-of-course test to be promoted to English III. The changes are part of the High School ReDesign, an initiative that focuses on making courses more rigorous and cutting in half the number of high school dropouts. The credit requirement change is part of the statewide LA Core 4 program, a part of the redesign. Schools’ implementation of LA Core 4 means students will take four years of English, math, science and social studies. The additional credit added this year is a math class. Another part of the redesign is that incoming freshman will automatically be enrolled in the initiative’s college-preparatory track. Those who do not want to go to college, aren’t successful in the more rigorous classes or have another valid reason will be allowed to enter a vocational-program track after completing their sophomore year.

School test scores rise, but ethnic gaps persist
The Mercury News – August 15, 2008
Annual report cards issued Thursday show California students continuing to perform better and better, yet more than half fall short of proficiency in English and math. Locally, the good news is that nearly all racial and ethnic groups exceeded their peers statewide, according to scores for 2007-08 tests know as STAR. And more Santa Clara County high school students are taking harder math classes than in the past and –surprisingly – more are doing better. Yet a closer look reveals a grimmer picture. A yawning achievement gap persists between whites and Asians toward the top, and blacks and Latinos further down. Roughly 30 percent points separate high-and low-achieving ethnic groups in the state. In Santa Clara County, the gap stretches wider, up to 47 points between Asians and Latinos. The achievement gap points to a crisis in the education of African-American students, state schools chief Jack O’Connell said. Last month, statistics revealed that 41 percent of black students drop out of high school. O’Connell pledged to “redouble efforts” in education low-achieving groups.

When Schools Offer Money As a Motivator
The Wall Street Journal – August 21, 2008
More and more school districts are banking on improving student performance using cash incentives – a $1,000 payout for high test scores, for example. But whether they work is hard to say. In the latest study of student-incentive programs, researchers examining a 12-year-old program in Texas found that rewarding pupils for achieving high scores on tough tests can work. A handful of earlier studies of programs in Ohio, Israel and Canada have had mixed conclusions; results in a New York City initiative are expected in October. Comparing results is further complicated by the fact that districts across the country have implemented programs differently. Still, school administrators and philanthropists have pushed to launch pay-for-performance programs at hundreds of schools in the past two years. Advocates say incentives are an effective way to motivate learning—especially among poor and minority students—and rewarding teaching skills. Critics argue that the programs don’t fix the underlying problems, such as crowded classrooms or subpar schools.

Juvenile Justice

“Juvenile Transfer Laws: An Effective Deterrent to Delinquency?” appears in this month’s Juvenile Justice Bulletin from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The report examines laws that a number of states have enacted which increase the types of offenders and offenses eligible for transfer from juvenile court to adult criminal court.

Prosecution of 17-year-old offenders decried
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – August 19, 2008
Wisconsin’s tough-on-crime policy of placing 17-year-old criminal offenders in adult court is a failed experiment that only increases the likelihood the teens will commit more crimes, according to a study released Tuesday. The study by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families also finds racial bias in the policy’s implementation, citing statistics showing that African-American youth are far more likely to be incarcerated than white youths. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that trying youth as adults does not make communities safer,” said Charity Eleson, executive director of WCCF, which describes itself as a nonpartisan child and family advocacy organization. “In fact, it appears to have the opposite effect.” The results of the Wisconsin study are consistent with a report issued this month by the U.S. Department of Justice. That report concluded that “transferring juvenile offenders to the criminal court does not engender community protection by reducing recidivism. On the contrary, transfer substantially increases recidivism.”

Foster Care

Shortage endangers kids’ lives, judge says – August 8, 2008
More than 3,000 children in Indiana’s child welfare system, including 1,100 in Marion County, are without a state-mandated advocate looking out for them. “We are failing children, and we are failing them to the point that their lives are in danger,” Marion County juvenile court Judge Marilyn Moores said of the problem, the result of a lack of money to hire professionals who recruit, train and oversee the volunteer advocates. Advocates – required under a state law adopted in 2005 as part of wider reforms of the child welfare system – often are the only constant in the lives of the children who have been removed from their parents. They also are the only independent voice whose focus is strictly on what’s best for a child in cases that typically involve conflicting parties. Indiana – the last state to require an advocate for child victims – is not alone in struggling to provide coverage for all eligible children, said Michael Piraino, chief executive of the National Court – Appointed Special Advocates Association, or CASA. He said few states are able to attain 100 percent coverage, and solutions are hard to find in tough economic times.

Books For Youth Program at Colts pregame – August 22, 2008
The Indianapolis Colts and the DCS are asking you for your help in being part of a team to educate our foster youth and young adults by participating in the third annual Books For Youth pre-game drive. On any given day, over thousands of children are in the foster care system and too often they leave their belongings behind when they move. The Colts and DCS want to change that by helping place 25 age appropriate books per child into the hands of foster youth and young adults and are asking for community support to make a smart handoff to Indiana’s youth. The Books For Youth Program is one of many efforts to bring awareness to the growing need for community involvement in caring for Indiana’s children.

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