Post #1 California reform on life sentences for juveniles.

http://www.latimes.com/local/crime/la-me-juvenile-lwop-20150325-story.html#page=1

The title of the article is, “California Inmate’s Parole reflects rethinking of life terms for youth.” It was written by Marisa Gerber. This article draws attention to a law reform that California made in 2012 that is now coming into effect and making a difference in the lives of many children and families. California reformed a law that allowed juveniles to be charged with life in prison without parole. This article brings up the fact that research shows there is a significant developmental gap between juveniles and adults. The author also mentions the how easily influenced many juveniles are. The author brings up a possible explanation for the amount of juveniles charged with life sentences being the rise in crime rates in the 1990’s. The reform also allows people who were previously charged with a life sentence as a juvenile to now earn parole. The author talks about an inmate who was sentenced to life in prison when he was 16 and was just paroled this week, now age 39. This topic is extremely important for us to think about from a child development perspective. Everything we learn about the stages of psychosocial and emotional development support the two-tier system of charging juveniles separately from adults. It is good that California is getting back on track with their treatment of our troubled youth, but what are other states doing about this issue? According to this article, there are 2500 prisoners nationwide who are serving life terms they were sentenced to as juveniles. To me that kind of feels like 2500 children that we gave up on who now deserve their second chance to be a productive citizen of our society.


A Rare Victory for Black Voting Rights in the South

A Rare Victory for Black Voting Rights in the South

Alabama Democrats accused Republicans of “unconsitutional racial gerrymandering” and took their case to the Supreme Court.The Democrats believed that certain districts had been redrawn based on race. They won the case with a 5-4 vote and the ruling was announced on the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma march. According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic studies, black voters have less political influence now than they did before the civil rights movement


School districts providing dinner for students

3/25/15 More students are being served dinner at school nationwide

Today more children qualify for subsidized school lunches than ever before. A rising trend of children being served dinner at school is taking place in low-income areas especially in the Los Angeles School District and in other larger districts in America. Dinner is being served because children may not be given the opportunity to have dinner after school or at home. Schools are beginning to take the responsibility in their owns hands by providing these meals. Over 1 million children are now receiving dinner at school.

Article Posted on 1/15/15

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/15/los-angeles-school-dinner_n_6481230.html


The Sodomite Suppression Act

I feel a very personal need to advocate against proposals such as these because they support hateful acts. As a queer womyn myself I feel very disrespected and hurt that people support these views about the LGBTQ community. I feel that it is important to address these kind of actions because I have experienced and seen a lot of hate towards the queer community. Recently, I have been reading about the murders of transgender women of color in California. This year alone there have been 8 murders, four of those in my home town of Los Angeles. Bills such as these that promote hate make it acceptable to dehumanize those in the LGBTQ community. I feel afraid for myself and for my queer friends because people feel it is justified to shoot gay people because they  “touch another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification.” People, all people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and this bill only proposes hate and murder.

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/03/20/death-penalty-for-gays-ballot-initiative-mclaughlin-harris-california-capital-punishment-sodomy/

Policy & Research Update on Special Education in California

In California a task force was created to study Special Education in the K-12 public school system. The purpose of the task force was to develop methods of teaching which will increase student success. Many recommendations were given but now the question is if they are achievable by the education system that is in place. I believe this task force is the beginning of reformation of education for individuals with special needs. We need a more inclusive educational system where all children’s needs are evaluated and met.
Published Online: March 24, 2015
Published in Print: March 25, 2015, as Special Education Task Force Urges Overhaul for California

Overhaul Urged to Aid Special Education in California: By Christina A. Samuels

Members of a task force that spent two years studying special education in California used their final report to recommend sweeping changes to the state’s entire pre-K-12 system in hopes of improving achievement for students with disabilities.

Virtually every major element of education policy—including early-childhood education, special education finance, teacher training, and accountability—was wrapped into the final report from California’s statewide task force on special education. The report was presented to the state board of education March 11.

The next question, now that the report is done: Are those recommendations achievable in a state that accounts for about 1 in 10 students with disabilities nationally?

“This is the time for a major leap forward, and I think a lot of people feel strongly that this is a better time than some false starts in the past,” said Carl A. Cohn, a former superintendent for the Long Beach Unified district and the chairman of the task force.

The proposals, if all implemented, would require action from classroom teachers all the way up to the federal government. But members of the panel say that the opportunity for major change is possible.

Mr. Cohn said the state can take advantage of the changes wrought by an improving financial picture for the state, as well as the shift to Common Core State Standards.

Alice Parker, the state director of special education in California from 1997 to 2005, testified before the task force when it was seeking community comment.

“What I’m so excited about from the task force is that people came together and thought, ‘It’s not good enough in California,’ ” Ms. Parker said. An education consultant, she and others helped write the report, but did not contribute to the final proposal. “We’ve got to stop the practice of saying, ‘This is a child with a disability, so send them to Alice because she’s a special educator.’ We need to work collaboratively.”

Heavy Hitters

The task force was the brainchild of Stanford University colleagues and education heavy-hitters Michael W. Kirst and Linda Darling-Hammond. Mr. Kirst, the president of the state board of education, is a professor emeritus of education and business education at Stanford; Ms. Darling-Hammond, an education professor, is the chairwoman of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

In an interview, Mr. Kirst said that special education was caught up in managing legal requirements.

“All that ever came before the [state] board were compliance documents to send in to Washington,” Mr. Kirst said. “And yet we kept hearing very difficult things about how the students were doing.”

Mr. Kirst and Ms. Darling-Hammond pitched their idea for a statewide task force in the fall of 2013, eventually getting four foundations—the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, the Stuart Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation—to support its work.

The task force found statistics that supported its impression that California lags other states in serving its 600,000 students in special education.

For the class of 2012, the passing rate for students with disabilities on the California High School Exit Examination was 56 percent by the end of their senior year, compared with 95 percent for students without disabilities.

To make matters worse, California is below national averages when it comes to including students with disabilities in general education settings. For the 2011-12 school year, about 22 percent of California students with disabilities spent 40 percent or less of their school day in general education, compared with 14 percent for students nationwide.

Students in segregated settings often miss out on academically rich instruction, experts say.

“Instead of opening a door to a brighter future, special education for many students is a dead end,” the report said.

But the task force said there is still a place for students with certain disabilities who may be served better in separate settings, said Vicki L. Barber, a co-executive director of the task force and the retired superintendent of the El Dorado County Office of Education.

“We’re not talking about eliminating the state school for the deaf, or the state school for the blind. It is a recommendation that we need to make sure all students have the opportunity to be with non-disabled peers, and that’s not happening across every setting,” Ms. Barber said.

Wide-Spectrum Approach

The task force report, “One System: Reforming Education to Serve All Students,” offers a glimpse into the philosophical underpinnings of its recommendations.

It starts with early-childhood education, saying that better services for all children will help children with developmental delays. The report also says the state needs to create a “family friendly” protocol for transferring students from preschools that serve children with disabilities to elementary school, so that their needs continue to be met.

The report also delves into the education that students receive at school, and recommends a comprehensive push for what are called multitiered systems of supports. These are instructional practices that identify students with specific learning or behavioral needs, and then provide progressively intensive interventions to help them address those needs.

Matthew J. Navo, the superintendent of the 11,000-student Sanger Unified district in California’s Central Valley, was the chairman of the subcommittee that made recommendations on the evidence-based practices. Sanger Unified credits its implementation of a response-to-intervention model, or RTI, for turning around the academic performance of the entire school system, both in general and special education.

The task force recommends that the California Department of Education take up the banner for multi-tiered support systems statewide.

Superintendents are ready to do that work, Mr. Navo said. “There’s no district superintendent I’ve talked to who doesn’t want to implement something so that all their kids’ needs are met,” he said. Where the state can help is to take “responsibility to support the capacity building and to create a common framework,” he said.

The task force report also recommends revamping the way the state supports special education by giving schools and districts more control over how they spend their money. They would then be held accountable for student achievement. This funding model would be coordinated with the state’s shift to its local control funding formula, which has loosened many of the controls the state had on how education funds could be used at the local level.

Next Steps

The commission’s report has received a positive response from Thomas A. Torlakson, the state superintendent of public instruction. The committee members are now giving presentations on the report to other education groups.

Committee members say that some of the report’s broader recommendations can be implemented relatively quickly, such as revamping teaching credentials. Other recommendations would be a heavier lift, such as lobbying the federal government to provide more money to California and the rest of the country through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

“The worst thing a superintendent can do is take this document and hand it to the special education director,” said Mr. Kirst, a move that would give the impression that this is only a special education issue.

Ms. Barber concurred. “It is our hope that it doesn’t become a report that sits on a shelf and someone says, ‘That was a good effort.’ ”

Vol. 34, Issue 25, Pages 17,19

Retooling the System

California’s statewide task force on special education worked for two years on a comprehensive set of recommendations that it says would not only improve special education statewide, but boost academic achievement for all students. Its recommendations fall into seven categories:

Early Learning: Improve access to and coordination of high-quality early care and preschool for all students, but particularly for children with disabilities, children who grow up in poverty, and children who are dual-language-learners.

Evidence-Based School and Classroom Practices: Develop a multitiered system of supports throughout the state, incorporating both academic and behavioral learning.

Educator Preparation and Professional Learning: Prepare and authorize all special education teachers to instruct and provide any needed support to general education students.

Assessment: Create and disseminate samples of standards-aligned individualized education programs, along with comprehensive training on adapting those examples or models for use in IEP meetings.

Accountability: Create a consolidated and integrated special education data system that identifies and eliminates duplicate reporting, especially in the areas of suspensions, expulsions, and postsecondary outcomes.

Family and Student Engagement: Establish clear and specific guidelines and reinforcement for students’ involvement in their own IEP meetings and student-led IEPs.

Special Education Financing: Overhaul the special education financing system to give schools and districts more control over how they spend their money and to hold them accountable for adequately meeting the needs of students with disabilities.


“Justice Department Weighs In On Assembly-Line Justice for Children”

March 21, 2015

Justice Department Weighs In On Assembly-Line Justice for Children by Carrie Johnson

There is a problem in Georgie concerning the amounts of time juveniles are allowed to see and interact with their lawyers. These lawyers are already swamped with Adult cases and so have little more than fifteen minutes to spend with juvenile detainees. In many instances, the lawyer assigned to the children spend their time convincing them to plead guilty for the offense. The chief of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department feels that a change needs to happen now in order to change the way that the system works. She calls for an overhaul of how the system works and making sure that the system matches what the Department of Justice believes is the due process owed to these children. In a disturbing trend that can be seen elsewhere in the country, African Americans make up the majority of these juveniles and it is often times for things that “White” Americans would simply have been sent to the principals office for.

http://www.npr.org/2015/03/21/394278540/justice-department-weighs-in-on-assembly-line-justice-for-children


Special Education Charters Renew Inclusion Debate

Edweek’s website has an interesting article centering on a woman named Diana Diaz- Hernandez who opened a charter school in Phoenix, Arizona for her son, who has autism, and like children. Harrison’s logic about making a school to meet her son’s needs is that she wanted “a school that can help him with his communication, ease his anxieties, and help him move forward and make academic process”. There are around 6,000 charter schools nationwide and about 100 of them are special education focused. This article talks about the debate of what is the best developmental environment for children developing atypically: a specialized school or mainstream setting with typically developing peers.


Problems with Plans for a Public All Boys High School

Early March Education Week posted an article titled Districts’ Boys- Only Programs Prompt  Legal Questions. This article talks about the plans for an all boys public high school, which is  part of a $20 million initiative to help improve the “achievement and graduation rates among black and Hispanic boys”. The Debate over this initiative is: single sex education, under Title IX is not allowed,unless providing the same quality for the opposite sex.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/03/04/districts-boys-only-programs-prompt-legal-questions.html?qs=Districts’+Boys-Only+Programs+Prompt+Legal+Questions#


UC Irvine Flag Ban

In early March, UC Irvine Associated Students decided to ban all flags from their office, because of the fact that flags have multiple meanings, and they differ from person to person. So, when the American flag was included in this ban, they stated that some people use it as a symbol of colonialism and imperialism. This act, (which was vetoed two days later) was met with such outrage from people that the Students have been unable to meet due to verbal threats received. The Students stated that they were just trying to advocate and create a safe space for all students, and meant nothing more than that.

http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2015/03/12/uc-irvine-flag-ban-that-raised-free-speech-debate-started-with-bitter-game-of-cat-and-mouse/