Monday, June 01, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Cadet program gets tough with high-school dropouts
The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, AZ – May 30, 2009
As thousands of Arizona's college-bound youths were busy decorating dorm rooms or guzzling beer at keg parties, the newest cadets at Arizona Project Challenge were getting a vastly different initiation into life. In a grueling, 22-week program filled with buzz cuts and blisters, 17-year-old Michael Jensen and 35 other high-school dropouts learned the how-tos of military training and now are preparing to enter the adult world. But in addition to graduating from the Arizona National Guard-run program with his peers this week, Jensen set himself apart by becoming the first cadet to also graduate from high school through a new online program.

High School Dropouts Speak out for GreenTek Charter, Rockford, IL – May 27, 2009
Rockford's high school dropout rate is one of the biggest challenges facing our community. Now a new charter school proposal targets kids who have left the traditional public schools, to get them to graduation. "We have thousands of youth that's out here that's begging for a second opportunity that can't get it," says Joseph Rayford III at a public hearing for the GreenTek Career Academy Charter School. The desire to fill that gap is at the heart of the charter proposal.

Horry County tries to fight dropout rate with Connect program
The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, SC – June 1, 2009
Three years ago, Johnston Long was traveling down the wrong path. He wasn't going to class, and when he was at school, he spent a lot of time in the principal's office. "I wasn't passing anything," Long said. "I knew I wasn't going to pass my grade, and I would have been back again in the eighth grade. I probably would have never finished high school." Then came a letter in the mail from Horry County Schools. Seeing higher dropout rates every year, the district wanted students such as Long to participate in its new Connect program.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile offenders getting better chances for success
Beaumont Enterprise, Beaumont, TX – May 29, 2009
A pin drop would have reverberated in the room. About 20 students scribbled intently on the papers placed before them, quietly raising hands to ask questions. "It's a quiet day. We like that," said principal Steve Gatewood, as he looked over the rows of seated students. When Texas launched an extensive reform of the juvenile probation system in 1995, legislators spent millions developing the juvenile justice alternative education program, an educational solution for young offenders.

Bill to Reform Life Sentences for Children Approved
California Chronicle, Sacramento, CA – May 30, 2009
The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved SB 399 – The Fair Sentences for Youth Act. The legislation authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) would allow courts to review cases of juveniles sentenced to life without parole after 10 years, potentially allowing some individuals to receive a new sentence of 25 years to life. "Children have a greater capacity for rehabilitation than adults," said Yee, who is also a child psychologist.

Cincinnati's At Promise Summits
Final Call, Washington, D.C. – May 27, 2009
“Incarceration is becoming the new American apartheid and poor children of color are the fodder. It is time to sound a loud alarm about this threat to American unity and community, act to stop the growing criminalization of children at younger and younger ages, and tackle the unjust treatment of minority youths and adults in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems with urgency and persistence,” explained Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman last February at the National Cradle to Prison Pipeline Summit. The Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC) and the Black Male Initiative of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College decided to do something about this by hosting a four part series called the At Promise Summit. The first summit was last fall.

Foster Care

Bill may help foster kids shift to adulthood, Stockton, CA – May 29, 2009
During her nine years in the foster care system, in which she was shuttled from home to home and lost contact with her only family member - a younger sister who was adopted - Kayla Whitaker dreamed of one thing. "I couldn't wait to turn 18. My main goal was to get out of the system and be on my own," Whitaker said. "Five weeks before my birthday, it hit me: 'Oh my God! I can't do this by myself. I can't get a job, get an apartment. I still want to be a kid.' "

Tech organization gives foster care youth hope
The Daily Toreador, Lubbock, TX – May 27, 2009
This Saturday, Jethro Washington will receive his high school diploma from Lubbock High School even with the odds against him. Washington has been in foster care for six years, and according to On The Move National Foster Care Youth statistics, youth in foster care are 44 percent less likely to graduate from high school than other students. "It's exciting to consider what's ahead," he said. "I'm not anxious, but it will be a little weird." Washington plans to enroll in classes at Texas Tech in the fall and compete in football and track, another unlikely feat for foster care youth.

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