Monday, July 05, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


How To Keep Students In School?
Metro News, Charleston, WV – June 30, 2010
The dropout rate for high school students in West Virginia is at 25%.  But Patrick Crane, Governor Joe Manchin's Education Policy Advisor, says the state comes out better than most.  "We're doing better than the national average by about 2-3% points, but this is a huge problem throughout the country."  The Governor's Education Panel met for the first time Wednesday in Charleston with other people who have a vested interest in that number.  "The only way to approach this is as a group that can bring this together from all sides," Crane says.  West Virginia is one of six states to receive a grant from the National Governor's Association to study dropout rates and try to find out the reasons why students leave school.

Program to target high school dropouts
Tampa Bay Online, Sebring, FL – June 26, 2010
A program new to Highlands County will seek out high school dropouts to bring them back to the classroom and working toward a diploma.  The Alternatives Unlimited's Drop Back In Academy program targets 16-21 year-olds who have dropped out of the educational system, given up and stopped attending high school.  Deputy Superintendent Rodney Hollinger said, "It's a neat idea that's a grass roots effort."

New Diploma Standard in New York Becomes a Multiple-Question Choice
The New York Times, New York – June 27, 2010
When the State Education Department announced five years ago that all students would soon be required to pass five tests to earn high school diplomas in New York, officials applauded themselves for raising standards.  The new requirements do not take full effect until the class of 2012 graduates. What is clear is that if they were in place today, New York City’s graduation rate would almost certainly drop after years of climbing steadily. What is not so evident, educators and testing experts say, is whether the higher bar will inspire students and schools to greatness, or merely make them lean more heavily on test-taking strategies. Nor is there agreement on whether it will actually make a difference in how students perform in high school and beyond.

Juvenile Justice

Proposal would identify youths after second serious crime
The Washington Post, Washington, DC – June 29, 2010
For juvenile delinquents in the District, it could soon be two strikes and you're out.  Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the public safety committee, is set to propose legislation this week that would make public the identity of any juvenile offender after a second serious crime.  It would be a radical shift for a juvenile justice system grounded in rehabilitation, and it comes as Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), Mendelson and others city leaders face election-year criticism over their handling of juvenile crime.

Task force: Juvenile justice improving
Citizen’s Voice, Luzerne County, PA – July 2, 2010
The Luzerne County Juvenile Justice Victim Task Force has been trying to change "the culture" of juvenile justice in the county since May 2009, two task force officials said Thursday.  James Davis, a mental health specialist for the Luzerne County Mental Health/Mental Retardation Agency, and Michael Zimmerman, executive director of the Family Service Association of Wyoming Valley, talked to The Citizens' Voice editorial board and claimed some accomplishments.  "Word hasn't really gotten out about some of the positive changes," Zimmerman said.  As a result of former judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. being charged in the kids-for-cash scandal, the task force was formed last year. Zimmerman said Carol L. Lavery, the state victim's advocate, helped organize the task force, which consists of more than 40 members.  "It is our hope that because of the damage that's been done, we can put some things together so that we can become a model for other counties," Zimmerman said.

Foster Care

Brighter Tomorrows program helps maturing foster kids
WCF Courier, Waterloo, IA – June 27, 2010
Samantha Banser of Janesville is in her second year as a pre-med student at Wartburg College. She also holds a job.  Despite taking steps toward independence, Banser, 19, said it's still nice to be able to call home for help with a car repair, homework, job networking or simply to share a meal together. Having her family's unconditional love is important.  "They are still there," Banser said.  Banser and her mom, Pam, think every young adult deserves such support. Unfortunately, the Bansers have witnessed firsthand how some young adults exiting the foster care system can struggle with the weight of new responsibilities.

Foster youth an investment worth making
The Bakersfield Californian, CA – June 25, 2010
There's not any fat in the state's anorexic budget. There's not even enough muscle to adequately animate some of California's most vital moving parts. Some cuts we should be able to live with. Others, not so much. Valuable and worthy programs, including many that would have been regarded as essential under other circumstances, have been visited by the fiscal scalpel. As a state, we're the poorer for it.  Some deserving programs are hanging on, albeit barely. One, which was being debated in the state Senate's appropriations committee last week, provides funding for programs to help aged-out foster youth transition into the real world as independent, self-sustaining, tax-paying adults.

Youth in Transition
The Daily Journal, Ukiah, CA – July 2, 2010
It's just a typical Wednesday afternoon in the shady backyard of a transitional living home. There are five young adults speaking with their program director, Mary Tindall, about what they want to have at their Fourth of July barbecue. There's discussion on what meat they want but they all agree on one thing: no potato salad and that Anthony and Amanda will do the grocery shopping, except they'll be using donated funds to pay for it.  The five participate in a program that provides free housing and counseling as well as group activities, such as the occasional communal meals. In fact, the counseling is required in order to take advantage of the free housing and the other benefits. But there are rules: no drugs or alcohol on the premises, youth have to be either working, volunteering or going to school. Some tend to do a combination of all of that.

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