Monday, August 09, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Twin Cities Daily Planet, Minnesota – August 2, 2010
There's a dollars and cents argument for graduating more students from America's high schools and for closing the graduation gap between white and non-white students, both here in the Twin Cities area and across the nation, a new study by the Alliance for Excellent Education shows.  One education proponent goes so far as to suggest "the best economic stimulus package is a high school diploma.''  That graduation gap is particularly alarming given that minority birth rates are increasing, added Bob Wise, president of the Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that has long worked to improve America's high schools.

The Forum, Fargo, ND – August 2, 2010
Fargo school officials plan to again push the North Dakota Legislature to move up the age to which students in the state have to attend school.  North Dakota students can drop out of school when they turn 16 – a law legislators considered moving to 18 in 2007, but it ­didn’t end up in legislation.  Now, Fargo School Board members expect to approve a resolution pushing policymakers to again add it to their agenda for the 2011 session.

Lansing State Journal, Lansing, MI – August 2, 2010
Missouri may be the "Show Me State," but the Lansing School District should aspire to be the "Show Them" district when it comes to its new direction for alternative education. Lansing administrators and school board members have committed to a new way to reach dropouts: online learning. Partnering with the firm AdvancePath Academics, Lansing will use space at Sexton High School to achieve what more traditional methods have not: Keep the teens in school and learning. For a district like Lansing, where two out of three high schools had graduation rates lower than the state average in 2008, experimentation is a necessity. But as any high-school science student can tell you, good experiments have to have good observation and honest reporting of results. Experiments succeed, and they fail.

Juvenile Justice

The Times, Illinois – August 4, 2010
In a move designed to provide more state resources for rehabilitating convicted youths into productive citizens, Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed merging the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, the agency that now manages incarcerated minors, within the larger Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.  Four years ago, the IDJJ, once a branch within the Illinois Department of Corrections, became an independent agency. Opponents of the merger, like state Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, who was against pulling the agency out of the corrections department in the first place, told The Times, "It would be better that this (merger), which will cost the state money, be done at some future date when the state might have the funds to better address the juvenile problem."

Reno Gazette Journal, Nevada – August 4, 2010
Kids on the fringe. Kids at-risk. Kids about to end up on the wrong side of graduation statistics. About 60 of those each summer participate in Project Walkabout, an eight-week boot camp where military-style drilling is as major a component as catching up on high school class credits.  The program this year enrolled 66 teens, including its largest contingent of female students, 18.  About 22 already have left the rigorous program, which started about 18 years ago as an alternative to for juvenile justice system to keep kids out of incarceration, and also to help them graduate.

Foster Care

Los Angeles Times, California – August 2, 2010
It can be lonely spending the summer in a mainly vacant college dormitory. But it's a worthwhile tradeoff for Daysi Espinoza, who's grateful to have a room at Cal State Fullerton to call home.  For Espinoza and hundreds of other former foster youths attending California's public universities, dorm rooms provide a much-needed stable residence. While classmates can retreat to childhood bedrooms and their families' embrace, these students are often on their own and want to stay in their dorms during vacations.
WMU News, Kalamazoo, MI – August 6, 2010
A $199,000 gift from the Binda Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich., will add professional staff to a Western Michigan University program that is the nation's largest and most comprehensive effort to provide college access to young people who have aged out of foster care.  The gift from the Guido A. and Elizabeth H. Binda Foundation will allow the program to hire an additional campus coach for the next three years to enhance the support services the University is able to provide to students in its Foster Youth and Higher Education Initiative. The initiative, also known as the Seita Scholars Program, will have 115 students enrolled this fall.

Grant to help teach skills to at-risk youths
Courier-Post, Camden, NJ – August 5, 2010
The Housing Authority of the City of Camden will receive $400,400 in federal funding for its YouthBuild Program. The YouthBuild program assists out-of-school youths in obtaining their diplomas or general equivalency diplomas while providing occupational training in the construction industry. These at-risk young people build and renovate affordable housing in the city.  "I have so much respect for any of the young people that are involved," said David Goodman, the assistant program coordinator with YouthBuild in Camden. "They have chosen to walk through the door." The participants in YouthBuild programs include young people who have been in the juvenile justice system, youths aging out of foster care and high school dropouts.

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