Georgia’s First After School and Youth Development Conference

The first Georgia After School and Youth Development Conference is taking place in Athens, Ga. January 9 – 11. The event was organized by GUIDE, Gwinnet United in Drug Education, Inc., and supported by the state’s Department of Human Services, the Governor’s Office for Children and Families, and the Department of Education. I was fortunate to be able to attend part of the conference on Thursday, and to sit down with a few of the presenters. The focus of the conference, embodied in the theme “Together towards Tomorrow,” is a set of unified standards for after school and summer programs that will enable the government, providers, and grant makers to make decisions based on the latest evidence about what really works.

Meridian Struggles with School-to-Prison Allegations

This story was produced in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity

Lionel Townsend will turn 14 in September and a few months after that he will be able to return to school, ending a year of exile. Lionel admits he got into fights multiple times at Magnolia Middle School. When he was charged with vandalizing a school bus security camera, he was booted from school. He fought again in a community day program. The county Youth Court eventually put him on probation and an order to stay at home with an ankle monitor.

Sites, Sounds from the Chicago Teachers’ Strike

By Audrey Cheng and Jennifer Starrs

Emotions and rhertoric have been running high as CTU teachers and paraprofessionals formed picket lines, beginning early Monday and continuing Wednesday with no quick end in sight for the first schools strike since 1987. Teachers are pushing for a contract, better working conditions and more social workers in schools, amomg other issues – while administration officials are pressing for big curricular and testing changes, including a greater emphasis on programs like charter schools.  

Audrey Cheng and Jennifer Starrs are reporters for The Chicago Bureau. 

Widespread Worry in Chicago About Safety of Children as Strike Continues

Following another Chicago summer during which many youth were slain in gang or drug disputes, there was concern on both sides of the Chicago teachers’ strike this week about the safety of the children whose school doors have been shut during negotiations over a new contract. There was little patience and much anger leading up to, and following, the breakdown of talks late Sunday, which picked up again with the new week but so far have failed to stem the first strike here since 1987. That’s a quarter century of relative labor peace in a city where walkouts and the delay of the school year were regular. While remembering those union battles might stretch the memory of many Chicagoans, there’s little need to stretch the imagination about what might happen if minors are left unwatched or unsupervised as parents return to work. Consider: Through the first week of September, homicides in Chicago were up nearly 30 percent over last year to 366, and overall shooting incidents were up 10 percent.

A Look Inside Atlanta Public Schools [INFOGRAPHIC]

When the U.S. Department of Education released the latest installment of the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), statistics covering the 2009-10 academic school year, last week it made headlines around the country. The CRDC represents a wealth of information from just about every corner of our country’s educational landscape. The report also shined some light on a number of gaps in educational opportunity and discipline on a national scale. Every state, school, district and county with a public school system is in there with detailed numbers attached. The Office of Civil Rights, a division of the Department of Education, has been collecting CRDC information since 1968 to help identify gaps, disparities and trends in educational achievement and opportunities.

Department of Education

Education Data Shows Disproportionate Minority Discipline, Opportunity Gaps For Public School Students

Newly collected data from the Department of Education shows that minority students are disproportionately subject to harsher disciplinary actions in public schools than their peers and offers insight into opportunity gaps for public school students around the country. More than 70 percent of students involved in school arrests or law enforcement referrals were black or Hispanic, according to the report. Black students were three and half times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white peers, the New York Times reported. The Civil Rights Data Collection’s 2009-10 gathered statistics from 72,000 schools, serving about 85 percent of the nation’s students from kindergarten through high school. While the disciplinary data is probably the most dramatic, the statistics illustrated a range of racial and ethnic disparities.

Helping At Risk Kids Strive for A Diploma

The Department of Education is offering the Predominantly Black Institutions Competitive Grant Program. This grant will carry out programs in science, math, technology, engineering, health education, globalization and teacher preparation with the aim of  improving the educational outcome of African-American males. The priorities for this grant are to help high school kids who are at risk to complete college or strive for higher education. This grant will also help to collect, analyze and use high-quality and timely data to follow up on kids who go through the program.

New Laws Across the Country Target Bullying In School

Forty-five states now have laws against bullying and harassment in schools, including Georgia. The Department of Education sent out a memo last month reiterating that all incidents of bullying and harassment be addressed immediately and effectively. In the memo Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, also addressed key components of bullying laws in several states. Here are some interesting highlights:

Oklahoma has linked bullying to antisocial behavior such as vandalism, shoplifting, fighting and drug and alcohol abuse. Indiana law addresses incidents taking place on school property, off school property and even cases involving equipment provided by the school.

National Dropout Numbers: Three Million or 11 Million? It Depends on Whom You Ask

High school dropouts have been a national concern for decades and there have been lots of studies on why teens drop out and how to keep them in school. Now, researchers are debating how many teens have actually dropped out and the numbers vary wildly, from 3 million to a whopping 11 million teens. As reported last month, the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics released a report in December documenting that about 3 million 16 to 24-year-olds were not in high school and did not have a high school diploma. The Center did not include dropouts with a GED or dropouts who were institutionalized. Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies used the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and estimates a much higher number: 6.2 million.