In The News

Current events in the news that are influencing policy and community action in support of students from foster care.

Governor signs foster and homeless youth’s education rights bill
Contra Costa Times – October 13, 2015
Foster and homeless youth will have a new way to fight for their educational rights under a bill signed into law on Sunday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Effective January 1, Assembly Bill 379 will offer up a mechanism for foster and homeless youth, who often are forced to move, to lodge complaints if they feel their educational rights have been violated.

Gov. Brown signs, vetoes key education legislation in days before deadline
EdSource – October 12, 2015
In recent days, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed or vetoed some of the remaining bills the state Legislature approved during the 2015 session, including legislation that suspends the high school exit exam, creates new rules for placing high school students in math classes, and increases support for foster students in California.
On his final day to sign or veto bills, Brown vetoed a bill that would have required the California Department of Education to provide four hours of training to family child-care providers in state-subsidized programs, saying in his veto message that the measure was premature in anticipating changes in federal child care laws.

Laws to Stop Bullying Can Protect Teens if They’re Done Right
NPR Shots – October 5, 2015
Bullying affects one out of every five U.S. high school students. But anti-bullying laws do make a difference, researchers reported Monday in JAMA Pediatrics – especially when those laws comply with guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education.

Social emotional learning — a practice gaining popularity in Bay Area schools
San Jose Mercury News – October 3, 2015
Social emotional learning lessons, known by their acronym, SEL, teach students how to get along with others in a group, how to handle anger, frustration, disappointment, anxiety and other negative emotions. It also uses positive reinforcement by allowing children to recognize their personal strengths and set goals and is typically taught in pre-school to middle school classrooms.

From Trauma to Redemption: How My Teachers Helped Me Survive My Life (Opinion)
Huffington Post – October 01, 2015
America’s Promise Alliance published a new study this fall, Don’t Quit On Me: What Young People Who Left School Say About the Power of Relationships, and invited young people to share their stories about the power of relationships. Amnoni’s story is the second post in a series by young people about the ways adults and peers can help more young people graduate from high school. Study:

Disciplinary Policies Ease as Perception of Suspension Shifts
Cabinet Report – September 29, 2015
Shifting public opinion regarding harsh punishment for minor offences has forced schools in recent years to critically examine their suspension policies, causing many to ease their heavy handed approaches.

Uncertainty Discovered Over College Readiness
Cabinet Report – September 28, 2015
With the advance of the Common Core State Standards, policymakers throughout the country have struggled in recent years to identify reliable methods to measure how well a non-college bound student is prepared for the work force.

New Data Reveals Stark Gaps in Graduation Rates Between Poor and Wealthy Students
ProPublica – September 24, 2015
A new report released Thursday provides a detailed look at the graduation rates of low-income college students. At many colleges, low-income students graduate at much lower rates than their high-income peers. Since 2008, schools are required to disclose Pell graduation rate data if it’s requested by prospective students.

College Tuition Program Nets Big Gains in Enrollment
Cabinet Report – September 23, 2015
A first-of-its-kind college tuition program is showing huge gains in its inaugural year with the number of high school graduates enrolling full-time in the state’s community colleges jumping 14 percent this fall.

Calif. Partnership Hopes to “Nudge” Foster Youth Toward Diplomas
Chronicle of Social Change – September 23, 2015
At two California colleges, students who have spent time in foster care are getting words of encouragement from their most trusted companion: a cell phone.
Advocates for California foster youth have partnered with a company that specializes in helping keep students on the path toward a diploma using text messages.

Heeding call to keep troubled youth on grad track
Cabinet Report – September 16, 2015
A new planning effort is set to begin this month directing how schools and counties would work together to keep thousands of troubled students in class and on track to graduate.
Existing local programs that successfully streamline the transition for students from juvenile court schools back to traditional classrooms will serve as examples for members of the so-called Juvenile Court Student Transition Statewide Work Group – charged with creating a statewide model for easily tracking and quickly transferring all pupil records and credits.

New School Improvement Agency to Be a ‘Dramatic Departure’
Education Week (opinion) – September 14, 2015
The Legislation that created California’s Local Control Financing Formula and the companion Local Control Accountability Plan called for a new organization to account for the legislation’s results and help schools perform. The California Collaborative for Educational Excellence got a broad legislative mandate, including the expectation that it would deviate sharply from the punishment and compliance-driven intervention efforts of the last decade.

The Miseducation of Foster Youth
The Chronicle of Social Change (opinion) – September 11, 2015
If professionals in youth and education services don’t care enough to ensure smooth transitions and efficient support to foster youth in school, then how can we expect foster youth to be overly invested in their academic careers?
If we look thoroughly at high school dropout rates, college readiness, entrance and graduation rates, suspensions and expulsions, we’ll see glimpses of a subculture in foster care where academia is regarded with low reverence. That lack of connection is a byproduct of substandard treatment and supports while in school.

Alameda County truancy court works to keep children in school
Contra Costa Times News – September 1, 2015
In Alameda County, parents of truant school children are offered the option of pleading guilty and entering a one-year probationary period. All fines and charges are dropped if their kids begin to attend school regularly.

How to Help the Students with No Homes?
Chronicle of Higher Education – August 24, 2015
On some college campuses, administrators are taking a broader view of what it means to be homeless, and they are responding with programs aimed at getting more homeless students into — and through — college.

Florida District to Adopt New Suspension Alternative
Cabinet Report – August 20, 2015
Florida’s largest school district is considering eliminating ut-of-school suspensions by sending scofflaw students to off-campus centers where they can get support from teachers and counselors.

Compton Unified Fights a Lawsuit over Children’s Demons
L.A. Times – August 20, 2015
Students who say trauma from abuse and violence requires special attention at school demanded that the Compton Unified School District immediately have teachers, administrators and staff undergo training to recognize and understand the effect of such incidents.

Fostering a Better Future
City on a Hill Press – August 20, 2015
At UC Santa Cruz, there are 120 students out of 15,645 undergraduates who classify as former foster youth, wards of the court or orphans as of June 2015, according to the Financial Aid Office. Former foster youth make up a small portion of the population at UCSC because many foster youth face significant barriers that make getting to the university especially difficult.

Are Traumatized Students Disabled? A Debate Straight Outta Compton (Includes audio)
National Public Radio – August 20, 2015
Exposure to violence can have negative effects on cognitive development, says Susan Ko of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. A lawsuit involving a California school district contends that trauma sometimes constitutes disability, requiring schools to provide accommodations.

Maps Highlight Suspension and Expulsion Records
Cabinet Report – August 5, 2015
The U.S. Department of Education has released new, interactive maps detailing district-by-district numbers for the percentage of students suspended out of school in the 2011-12 school year.

Fewer High Schools Have Expectations for College
Cabinet Report – August 3, 2015
Previous research revealing that about half of all U.S. high school students feel unprepared for life after graduation is being backed up by a recent, larger sampling that also highlights a gap between the number of pupils who say they want to go to college and those who expect they will.

What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?
Mother Jones – July/August 2015
The expression “school-to-prison pipeline” was coined to describe how America’s public schools fail kids with behavioral issues. Even though today’s teachers are trained to be sensitive to social-emotional development and schools are committed to mainstreaming children with cognitive or developmental issues into regular classrooms, those advances in psychology often go out the window once a difficult kid starts acting out. Teachers and administrators still rely overwhelmingly on outdated systems of reward and punishment, using everything from red-yellow-green cards, behavior charts, and prizes to suspensions and expulsions.

New research dogs effectiveness of Head Start
Cabinet Report – July 30, 2015
Echoing research that dates back almost 50 years, the latest evaluation of the effectiveness of the federal Head Start program found positive effects on general reading achievement but nothing more.
At a current cost of close to $8 billion annually, the report found no discernible effects on mathematics achievement and social-emotional development for 3 and 4-year old children.

Building a tool to define ‘adequately-funded education’
Cabinet Report – July 27, 2015
San Diego Unified is nearing completion of what it’s calling an Adequacy Calculation Tool – an electronic mechanism that will allow it and others to accurately evaluate the relationship between existing resources and what’s actually needed to prepare students for success in college and career.
The tool is part of an advocacy plan to determine a high-level estimate of the funds that would be needed to fully implement the goals of the district’s LCAP. The move was also designed to support the larger discussion around funding adequacy in California’s public schools.

Educators Take Aim at Needs of Younger Foster Youth
Chronicle of Social Change – July 22, 2015
California’s biggest school district put most of its funding for foster youth into extra high school services. But research, and advocates for youth in care, suggest that the problems start far earlier.
Although the struggles of foster youth begin long before the students reach high school, a recently issued preliminary report from the University of California, Berkeley found that Los Angeles Unified School District has invested more funding in high school foster youth than their elementary-aged counterparts.

Crime stats show troubling trend at nation’s schools
Cabinet Report – July 16, 2015
A general decline in serious crime on K-12 school campuses nationwide appears to be reversing, perhaps reflecting an upswing in violence in some of the nation’s largest cities.

CA Looks for Options to ‘highly qualified’ teachers for all
Cabinet Report – July 13, 2015
Even as state officials signed off on a federally-mandated plan designed to ensure experienced, quality teachers for all students, they also raised the specter of seeking a waiver from those same requirements.
Mike Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education, said during last week’s July meeting that federal requirements aimed at equalizing the level of teacher quality across classrooms may not be suitable for California, where work is underway to create a new accountability system that may not align with antiquated Congressional mandates.

LCAP not API to serve as school performance monitor
Cabinet Report – July 9, 2015
In a subtle but significant policy shift, state education officials acknowledged publicly Wednesday that the focal point for measuring school performance going forward will be the Local Control Accountability Plan and not the Annual Performance Index.

A seamless pathway from high school to college
Cabinet Report – July 6, 2015
More avenues to college and career fields would be open to a broader array of high school students under legislation that has moved to the state Senate for consideration.
AB 288 would provide greater flexibility for K-12 and community college districts to establish or expand dual enrollment programs that allow high school students, while working toward graduation, to simultaneously take part in college-level career technical education courses or classes that count for credit toward a degree.

Suit accuses L.A. Unified of diverting millions meant for needy students
Los Angeles Times – July 1, 2015
The Los Angeles Unified School District has illegally shortchanged high-needs students of millions of dollars meant for them under the state’s new school finance system, a lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges.
The suit claims that improper accounting will cost those students more than $400 million by next June and up to $2 billion by 2020.

Schools Need Better Tallies, Transparency for Foster Youth Grants
The Chronicle of Social Change – June 24, 2015
Simply acquiring the data on foster students marks a significant shift in the way the education system treats its responsibility for the special funding of these at-risk populations. However, some feel that the LCFF’s accountability mechanism is insufficient, allowing local planners to distribute funds, while leaving them unchecked at the state level.

Last minute moves support student discipline, Adult ed
Cabinet Report – June 24, 2015
A multi-million dollar grant to help schools address student behavior, parameters for the revamped Adult Education program, and a deadline extension for adopting new school performance metrics were among the flurry of budget moves approved in Sacramento.

Five Big Changes in the New Head Start Performance Standards
New America EdCentral – June 23, 2015
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the new, improved, and long-awaited Head Start Performance Standards in a Federal Notice of Proposed Rule Making.

L.A. County’s Youth Foster Center Should Be Closed Immediately: Panel says
Los Angeles Times – June 22, 2015
Los Angeles County’s foster care system should promptly shut down its last-resort facility for older youth with nowhere else to go and make significant new investments in the facility for younger youth, a special committee appointed by the Board of Supervisors has concluded.

California’s Budget avoids funding equity issue in special ed
Cabinet Report – June 18, 2015
Despite the recent release of a sweeping road map for improving special education, legislative leaders and Gov. Brown have settled on far less ambitious changes for how those services are delivered and paid for.

Advocates Say California School Districts Should Spend More on Foster Youth
Chronicle of Social Change – June 18, 2015
Nearly two years have passed since California Gov. Brown signed into law the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which provides additional resources to school districts to meet the needs of vulnerable groups of students, such as low-income students, foster youth and English-language learners.
Despite the new law, a report released in February by Public Counsel, a non-profit advocacy law firm, found that few districts accounted for the needs of foster youth in their budget plans, despite the persistent challenges faced by this population.

Normalcy: Not Just an “Extra” for Youth in Foster Care
Juvenile Law Center – June 9, 2015
Juvenile Law Center has published a new guide, Promoting Normalcy for Children and Youth in Foster Care, to help state advocates, legislators, and agencies implement recently enacted federal legislation in a way that brings meaningful change and responds to foster youths’ needs.
For many youth in foster care, “normal” is often out of reach. The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (Strengthening Families Act) helps state child welfare agencies prioritize normalcy instead of treating it as an “extra” that foster youth get to enjoy, if they’re lucky.