Monday, November 15, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The Indianapolis Star, Marion County, IN – November 14, 2010
Jamie Pittman is used to conducting job interviews. She's the director of nursing at The Indiana Heart Hospital.  But on this day, as she asked a young man that classic interview question, "Tell me about a time you made a mistake and what you learned from it," the answer was a shocker. Pittman is a volunteer who twice a month takes a break from her busy workday to mentor at-risk students.

The Huffington Post, New Haven, CT – November 9, 2010
New Haven officials have unveiled New Haven Promise, a new program that grants college tuition to qualifying public and charter high school students.  In order to be applicable for free college tuition dollars to any public college or university in the state, high school students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average and have a 90 percent attendance rate.

Ventura County Star – November 13, 2010
To build long-term strength as a nation, we need to recognize that our greatest asset is our children and act accordingly. Ensuring their success means a vibrant country of strength. Yet, a sustainable nation with high quality of life is threatened by our most precious asset dropping out of school. Thirty percent of all of America’s high-school students fail to graduate on time, and worse, nearly half of African-American and Latino males never graduate.

Juvenile Justice

San Francisco Chronicle – November 10, 2010
What does it say about our criminal "justice" system when the seemingly just verdict and sentencing of Johannes Mehserle to two years for involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting Oscar Grant is met with violent protests? It reflects the reality that significant portions of our society - impoverished African Americans and Latinos - face discrimination in a racist justice system that no one seems interested in fixing. The Coalition for Juvenile Justice, a federally funded panel examining the reasons for the disproportionate incarceration rates, found "youth of color receive harsher sanctions than their white counterparts at every stage of the juvenile court system, from the point of surveillance (including racial profiling) to disposition/trial, sentencing, and incarceration." In California, the Drug Policy Alliance found that in 25 of the state's biggest counties, African American youth are arrested at three and sometimes four times the rates of white youth for pot possession, despite evidence that young African Americans use pot less than young whites. Studies also show that adult non-white offenders are arrested more, sentenced more and serve longer sentences than their white counterparts for the same crimes.

The Baltimore Sun – November 13, 2010
Four years ago, Darren Farmer's day started at noon and ended at 3 a.m. on a drug-riddled street corner.  The 16-year-old had walked away from Frederick Douglass High School, one of nearly 3,000 city students to drop out that year, because he "just felt as though I had no need for school if I couldn't make money." Dealing drugs filled his pockets with cash.  Soon, Farmer was arrested on drug and handgun charges and was incarcerated for two years. But this fall, he re-entered the city school system and is on his way to obtaining a high school diploma — a face behind the encouraging statistics that many say show that Baltimore is moving in the right direction.

The Florida-Times Union, Duval County, FL – November 11, 2010
A $9 million, six-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will help Duval County establish a system of mental health care for children and youth.  The grant will focus initially on children in foster care and the juvenile justice system, homeless children, as well as young, high-risk children in challenged neighborhoods.

Foster Care

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, VA – November 9, 2010
Before this year, you wouldn't have heard Kivon Matthews, 16, talking about foods like that, much less cooking with them.  Now she has expanded her horizons in a new culinary program at Charterhouse Day School at UMFS (United Methodist Family Services), part of an expansion that more than doubled the school's space and increased enrollment by more than half.  "We cook things we didn't know about before," Matthews said. She added that even if nonculinary student Chris Martin, 15, turned up his nose at anything involving olive oil, she liked it.  When the school's new space is celebrated today on the UMFS grounds with a keynote speech by Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, an open house will feature dishes prepared by Matthews and others in the new culinary program.

Des Moines Register, Iowa – November 11, 2010
Eighty balloons – each representing 100 Iowa children currently in foster care - were released locally Nov. 6 to honor and raise awareness for Iowa children waiting to be adopted.  Iowa KidsNet, the statewide collaboration of agencies that recruits, trains, licenses and supports all of Iowa’s foster and foster adoptive parents, planned the statewide balloon release at nearly 20 locations across Iowa, including Class Act Production Theatre in Altoona and Berean Assembly of God in Pleasant Hill.  Each site released 40 biodegradable balloons; one balloon represented approximately 100 children in foster care, shelter care or group care in Iowa on any given day.  Angela Albers, who this year launched Dropz of Hope — a nonprofit foster parent support organization — organized the Pleasant Hill release.

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