Monday, December 20, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


NPR, Central Falls, RI – December 16, 2010
We've been hearing a lot about high school dropouts because of a flurry of studies and reports that offer dire warnings about the drag dropouts can be on the economy and the nation's future. But if you want to understand why a million kids drop out of school every year, all you have to do is ask them — which is what NPR's Claudio Sanchez did as part of a recent reporting assignment to Central Falls Rhode Island.

Aurora Sentinel, Aurora, CO – December 16, 2010
Playing video games and lounging around the house after school are passé time-killers for middle-schooler Jamall Newbern.  On most days, Newbern, 12, prefers to stay at school for an extra two hours to learn about computers, kick around a soccer ball or practice his science skills at East Middle School’s after-school enrichment program. “It’s really fun because I get to hang out with all my friends and make some new ones,” said Newbern, who is one of about 100 students from East Middle School who participate in the COMPASS program. COMPASS, or Coalition of Many Providing After School Success, is offered at seven schools within the Aurora Public Schools system and one of the reasons Aurora was recently named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People. The 100 Best Communities for Young People award recognizes communities that have launched community-wide efforts to improve the well-being of young people and address the nation’s dropout crisis.

The Sacramento Bee, California – December 19, 2010
Rocklin's Victory High School and Truckee's Sierra High School have been named two of the state's model continuation schools.  The campuses made a list – released last week by state Superintendent Jack O'Connell – of 27 continuation schools that should serve as models to the rest of the state for their programs to help struggling students stay in school.
Times-Herald, California – December 15, 2010
We asked our nearly 6,000 Facebook fans and friends: Vallejo's public high school dropout rate is now nearing 50 percent, according to state figures. What do YOU think should be done to turn that around? Here are their edited responses:
Sara Foley: What do you think the percentage is going to be once Hogan closes? It's gonna be worse and I guarantee that there will be more crime and more dropouts then ever before!
Nadee Dagupan: Parents, students, teachers rally up students first!
Author Rhachelle Nicol: Pursuing the American Dream has cost us our families and values. I was born and raised in Vallejo when it was still considered a town. There was a strong sense of community among families, neighbors and each other's children. Our communities are supposed to bring accountability, no one is holding each other accountable. Parents blame teachers, teachers blame parents but no one is doing anything to work together. All it takes is one teacher and a parent to knock on a door and show their commitment and hold each other accountable for the future of our children.

Juvenile Justice

KABC-TV, Los Angeles, CA – December 14, 2010
Dozens of demonstrators started a 50-mile march Monday, calling for reforms in education and juvenile justice systems.  The marchers left the juvenile hall in Sylmar and they planned many stops along the way to their final destination on Thursday, which will be at the Division of Juvenile Justice in Norwalk.  They are trying to raise awareness of the problems faced by students who are forced out of school for breaking the rules.

Concord Monitor, Concord, NH – December 19, 2010
The recent controversy about the operation of the Sununu Youth Services Center threatens to distract us from the real issues facing the New Hampshire juvenile justice system. If we are to address the immediate challenges facing the system and protect the long-term interests of our children and communities, we must begin with a few basic questions: Who should be confined at the Sununu Center? How long do we need to keep them there? And how can we use diminishing resources to meet the needs of court-involved children and keep our communities safe? We are confining too many kids for minor crimes, keeping them too long and using our resources unwisely in the process.

The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, PA – December 16, 2010
In the first meeting of its kind, Juvenile Justice Task Force members urged school personnel Wednesday to work hand-in-hand with them in the ongoing effort to remedy the “kids-for-cash” scandal in Luzerne County. “(The juvenile justice) system is at a very different point than it was two years ago, or even one year ago,” District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll said at the meeting held at Wilkes University, adding she feels the county is becoming a model for the state. Part of that model, Musto Carroll explained, is the formation of a youth aid panel, which would consist of three to five community volunteers and will be organized by newly hired former Hazleton Area teacher Bob Stevens.

Foster Care

Standard-Examiner, Ogden, UT – December 11, 2010
They both like Coca-Cola over Pepsi, and are avid readers.  “We both like Lady Gaga,” Bree said. “Some of her songs, not all of them.”  “We like some of her outfits, not all of them,” Catherine adds during a recent lunch.  They also share a love of horror movies.  “Despite what movie reviewers might want to hear after ‘Resident Evil 4,’ obviously there is going to be a ‘Resident Evil 5,’ ” said Catherine.  “She likes horror movies and listens to rock, not country or opera,” said Bree, who then brings up Ozzie Osbourne. “When he talks, you can’t understand him, but he can still sing the lyrics to his songs.”  “Bree’s introduced me to things I wouldn’t have experienced,” Catherine said.  Bree is an 18-year-old “aging out” of state-run foster care; Catherine Conklin is a 2nd District Court commissioner, a judgeship presiding over divorces and protective orders, among other things.  They came together when matched in July under the Mentor Connection program.

News-Press, Florida – December 13, 2010
The Department of Children and Families is pulling together a proposal that could extend foster care to age 21.  Care now ends at 18, and many former foster children grapple with early pregnancy, homelessness and unemployment.  Some young adults are pushed to live on their own before they have been able to earn driver’s licenses or high school diplomas.

The Florida Times-Union, Florida – December 17, 2010
For the first time in a long time, Jenette Bartley can't stop smiling.  Bartley aged out of foster care two years ago, after many years of bouncing around and running away. She recently got her GED, an achievement she is the first in her extended family to reach. And on Thursday, the 20-year-old mother of two earned a certificate of completion for a 15-week certified nursing assistant program, an accomplishment that she hopes will open new doors for a job.

Monday, December 13, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The Boston Globe, Concord, NH – December 12, 2010
New Hampshire wants its youth to graduate from high school -- whether they are in school, in jail or homeless.  Teachers, students, administrators and others will gather in Concord on Monday to discuss strategies to reduce the state's already low dropout rate.  Gov. John Lynch is responsible for the Governor's Third New Hampshire Summit on High School Graduation. Lynch has made reducing the dropout rate a high priority of his administration and was behind a law that took effect last year that raised the compulsory education age from 16 to 18, giving all students the chance to graduate from high school.

Dropout rate for blacks doesn't tell full story
San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland, CA – December 10, 2010
The recent figures released by the state Department of Education, which show a statewide public high school dropout rate of 37 percent among African American students, is a symptom of a broader social malaise and not an accurate measure of one group's performance.  Because when you hear some of the stories of children living in big city, high-crime neighborhoods, you come to understand that steering clear of troubled streets is in itself a full-time job.

Detroit Free Press, Michigan – December 11, 2010
Two years ago, southeast Michigan had 30 failing high schools -- schools where fewer than six in 10 freshmen went on to graduate. Today, that number is down to 22, the United Way says. Some poor schools have closed, and five schools are showing the promise of a turnaround through a United Way program that breaks them into small academies.  On Friday, General Motors jumped into the effort, announcing that it would pump $27.1 million over the next five years into the project to transform five yet-to-be-selected metro Detroit high schools, along with centers nearby to prepare children for kindergarten.

Juvenile Justice

WIBW, Washington, DC – December 9, 2010
More than 250 youth, parents and advocates descended on the nation’s capital this weekend to launch this week's "National Juvenile Justice Week of Action," declaring in a unified voice that the U.S. juvenile justice system is unaccountable, expensive, and unsafe – and that Congress and the Obama Administration need to pass legislation that protects children.

Public News Service, California – December 6, 2010
Young people who have made some wrong decisions in the past now need adults to make some right decisions. Hundreds of youth from California and other states are in the nation's capital today to urge Congress and President Obama to pass legislation that they say protects children. Tshaka Barrows, with California's Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY), says they're supporting the Youth PROMISE (Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education) Act.

Foster Care

The Boston Globe – December 9, 2010
Since she aged out of foster care three years ago, Kaila Dunn has lived in more homeless shelters than she can recall, often dingy dwellings full of drunken men, rampant drug use, and too many people seeking to take advantage of her. “It’s really scary and lonely to be in a place with so many creepy adults with so many issues,’’ she said.  The 21-year-old high school dropout from Randolph is among what city, state, and federal officials say is a rising number of homeless youths and young adults. Every year, tens of thousands of them become too old to remain in state custody or land on the streets because of broken families.

Contra Costa Times, Hollywood, CA – December 12, 2010
The long white van with tinted windows crawls to a stop off a Hollywood street one night, luring those too old to be called children but too young to care about 401(k)s.  What comes from inside the vehicle brightens otherwise slack-jawed expressions on sallow faces: free peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches, bottled water and, if the private donations have come through, underwear, socks and toothpaste.  On a recent cold evening, the homeless youths who live on Hollywood's streets are forgoing food for anything that brings them warmth., Tucson, AZ – December 9, 2010
A local non-profit called "In my Shoes" which is a part of the Arizona Children Association launched a campaign Wednesday in search of mentors for teens in 'out of home' care.  The campaign is called "Will You Be There." The goal is to match mentors who have been through foster care with teens currently living outside of home care. "Many of children age out of foster care without a forever family so when you think about birthdays, holidays, support getting through college, it's generally not there."

Monday, December 06, 2010

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The New York Times – November 30, 2010
The nation’s high school graduation rate, which declined in the latter part of the 20th century, may have hit bottom and begun to rise, according to a report to be issued Tuesday by a nonprofit group founded by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. “The United States is turning a corner in meeting the high school dropout epidemic,” General Powell and his wife, Alma J. Powell, wrote in a letter introducing the report.

Tennessean, Rutherford County, TN – December 2, 2010
Strategies to get high school students to graduate on time like those implemented by the Rutherford County seem to be working. Don Odom, assistant superintendent of instruction and curriculum for Rutherford County Schools, said in 2009 Rutherford County's graduation rate was 91.3 percent, compared to the state's rate of 83.2 percent, according to the state report card. Four years prior, the state's rate was 77.9 percent, while the county's rate was 88.1 percent.

The New York Times, Baltimore, MD – December 1, 2010
For years, this city had one of the worst school systems in the country. Fewer than half its students graduated, enrollment had fallen precipitously and proficiency levels were far below the national average.  In 2007, the school board hired Andres Alonso, a Cuban immigrant with a Harvard degree and strong views on how to change things. In three years, he pushed through a sweeping reorganization of the school system, closing failing schools, slashing the central office staff by a third and replacing three-quarters of all school principals.

Juvenile Justice

The Washington Post, District of Columbia – November 30, 2010
In an effort to keep serious school misbehavior from spiraling into even more serious juvenile delinquency, the law school at the University of the District of Columbia is taking up cases of public school students who have been suspended for weeks or months.  Hundreds of D.C. public school students are suspended every year for periods of up to 90 days. Critics of the practice say that far from encouraging better behavior, the suspensions often open the door to more trouble.

Kane County Chronicle, Kane County, IL – December 1, 2010
A recent inspection of the Kane County Juvenile Detention Center by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice listed seven areas of improvement.  The detention center’s assistant superintendent, Amy Sierra, has been with the center for 19 years and was promoted to her new position in February. She said she has seen improvements over the last year that she credits to a new approach to dealing with youths.  “I think we focus a lot more on training now,” Sierra said. “Punishing them does not always work.”

The Gadsden Times, Alabama – November 29, 2010
Alabama is changing the way juvenile justice and detention operates and The Bridge, which operates an adolescent drug and alcohol treatment facility in Gadsden, has developed programs that some officials are saying should be adopted for use throughout the state. “We're leading the way in the state, really, in the way the way things are shaped,” said Terry Schrimscher, director of marketing for The Bridge.

Foster Care

Public News Service, Minneapolis, MN – November 30, 2010
The transition to adulthood can be a bumpy road for young people, and family support is often a critical lifeline. But for foster kids who have aged out of the system, the transition is even harder, as many lack the skills needed to make the jump to adulthood. A recent study from the University of Chicago suggests that extending foster care, or providing additional support until age 21, helps aid the transition, and one Minnesota program is doing exactly that. The Division of Indian Work's Healthy Transitions program teaches a range of life skills such as resume building and job hunting, applying for college, and apartment hunting.

Tallahassee Democrat, Florida – November 30, 2010
The Department of Children and Families has launched an initiative focusing on the educational needs of children in the state's care. Foster children tend to have a lot on their minds. School can easily become second priority. They often have the burden of worrying about court dates, life on their own or where they are going to get their next meal, said DCF Circuit 2 Operations Administrator Traci Leavine.

Central Florida Future, Orlando, FL – December 5, 2010
Last year, while some students went home to celebrate the holidays with their families, one UCF student, still in Orlando, found herself sleeping on four different couches. As this holiday season nears, she's still not sure what her plans will be. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, there are currently 423,773 foster youths in the U.S.; junior advertising and public relations major Tara Dinoski is one of them. Dinoski was 14 when her mother's parenting rights were terminated when she tried to commit suicide in front of Dinoski and her brothers, who were ages 5 and 3. Today, Dinoski is a student with a mission: She wants to help foster students succeed in college and encourage foster youths to do so. This led her to create Golden Hearts at UCF, a student organization dedicated to raise awareness about foster care and build a family-like support group for former foster students, international students and students from broken homes.