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.

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