Tag Archives: Juvenile-Justice System Not Meeting Educational Needs Report Says

Southern Education Foundation report: Juvenile justice education programs do more harm than good

17 Apr

Plessy v. Ferguson established the principle of “separate but equal” in race issues. Brown v. Board of Education which overturned the principle of “separate but equal.” would not have been necessary, but for Plessy. See also, the history of Brown v. Board of Education

If one believes that all children, regardless of that child’s status have a right to a good basic education and that society must fund and implement policies, which support this principle. Then, one must discuss the issue of equity in education. Because of the segregation, which resulted after Plessy, most folks focus their analysis of Brown almost solely on race. The issue of equity was just as important. The equity issue was explained in terms of unequal resources and unequal access to education.

Alyssa Morones reported in the Education Week article, Juvenile-Justice System Not Meeting Educational Needs, Report Says:

Many of the teenagers who enter the juvenile-justice system with anger problems, learning disabilities, and academic challenges receive little or no special help for those issues, and consequently fall further behind in school, a report released Thursday concludes.
“Way too many kids enter the juvenile-justice system, they don’t do particularly well from an education standpoint while they’re there, and way too few kids make successful transitions out,” said Kent McGuire, the president and CEO of the Atlanta-based Southern Education Foundation, which produced the report, “Just Learning: The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems Into Effective Educational Systems.”
The report characterizes the problems plaguing the juvenile-justice system as “systemic.” It found a lack of timely, accurate assessments of the needs of students entering the system, little coordination between learning and teaching during a student’s stay, and inconsistency in curricula. Many of the teaching methods were also inappropriate, outdated, or inadequate, and little or no educational technology was used.
“We need to help find ways to create structures and dramatically change how schools and principals and teachers [in the juvenile-justice system] are held accountable,” said David Domenici, the executive director of the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings, in Washington.
“We have kids who have not done well in school, but, more or less, they have to come every day. They’re a captive audience,” he said. “We can transform their perspective on school. But the reality is, education has been forgotten [in juvenile-justice systems].”
On any given day, 70,000 students are in custody in juvenile-justice systems across the country. Nearly two-thirds of those young people are either African-American or Hispanic, and an even higher percentage are male. Those systems, though, may be doing more educational harm than good, according to the report. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/04/17/29justice.h33.html

Here is the press release from the Southern Education Foundation:

Juvenile Justice Education Programs in the United States and Across the South Do More Harm Than Good
ATLANTA-April 17, 2014-With awareness growing that schools are disciplining and suspending minority students at alarming rates, a report released today by the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) provides powerful evidence that young people placed in the juvenile justice system-predominately minority males incarcerated for minor offenses-are receiving a substandard education.

The report-Just Learning: The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems into Effective Educational Systems-argues that education for the 70,000 students in custody on any given day is setting them even further back in their ability to turn their lives around.

Drawing upon the most recently available data from the nation’s largest database on teaching and learning in juvenile justice systems, the report finds that the quality of the learning programs for incarcerated youth have had “little positive, enduring impact on the educational achievement of most children and youth in state custody.”

In 2009, for example, most “longer-term” students (those enrolled for 90 days or more) whose progress was documented failed to make any significant improvement in learning and academic achievement. Incarcerated youth in smaller facilities closer to their local communities actually made less progress than students enrolled in state systems. That was particularly true in the 15 Southern states, where the proportion of students enrolled in local facilities increased from 21 percent of all incarcerated students in 2007 to almost 60 percent in 2011. Part of the problem, the report says, is that the programs, which serve youth with serious learning and emotional problems, provide young people with limited supports.

Taken as a whole, the report found that effects of juvenile justice programs are “profound and crippling,” and set young people back when they should be turning lives around, according to the report.

An ‘Invisible Population’
“We conducted this study to get a clear look at what happens to a truly invisible population,” says Steve Suitts, vice president of the Southern Education Foundation and author of the study. “The juvenile justice education programs that serve hundreds of thousands of students are characterized by low expectations, inadequate supports to address student needs, and ineffective instruction and technology. Students come out of the juvenile justice system in worse shape than when they entered, struggling to return to school or get their lives back on track.”

While some studies show that as many as 70 to 80 percent of young people released from residential correctional facilities will return to jail after two or three years, Just Learning notes that this is not inevitable. “Because effective education in the juvenile justice system helps to reduce recidivism and the number of youth who are in need of custody in the future, it can reduce the need and cost of future placement in juvenile justice facilities,” the report says.

Savings from Reducing Recidivism
According to the report, juvenile justice programs that help prevent young people from becoming re-offenders could save society about $3.9 million per youth.

“The institutionalization of hundreds of thousands of young people is a detriment to their future and to society’s interests,” says Kent McGuire, president of the Southern Education Foundation. “It is up to states to ensure that students in custody leave with the skills that can help them be independent and self-sustaining.”

Emulating Effective Models
The report says that education in juvenile justice programs can be successful. It cites programs-such as the Maya Angelou Academy in Washington, D.C.-that use teaching and learning approaches that have proven to be effective for many high-risk students and in the general population. The report also highlights research on an innovative educational program in Chicago demonstrating that cognitive behavior therapy resulted in a 44 percent reduction in violent crime arrests among participants during the program, as well as gains in schooling, measured by days in attendance, GPA, and school persistence.

To ensure that youth leaving the juvenile justice system have the skills and education they need to reenter school, find jobs, and become productive members of society, the report urges that states:
* Re-organize programs so that they are designed and operated to advance the teaching and learning of students.
* Set and apply the same educational standards that exist for all students in a state to the schools and educational programs in the juvenile justice system.
* Establish effective and timely methods of testing and reporting on the educational status and progress of every child and youth in the juvenile justice system.
* Develop and implement an individual educational plan and learning strategy-including special education, developmental services, academic motivation and persistence, and meta-cognition-to guide the instruction and services of every student in the juvenile justice system.
* Establish systems of coordination and cooperation to provide a seamless transition of students from and back into public schools.
* Create and maintain data systems to measure institutional and system-wide educational progress and identify areas in need of improvement.

Read the summary and the full report.
Just Learning: Executive Summary http://www.southerneducation.org/cmspages/getfile.aspx?guid=7c8e630f-aa97-4e9c-846e-a3b564b8a655

Just Learning:The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice System Into Effective Educational Systems http://www.southerneducation.org/cmspages/getfile.aspx?guid=b80f7aad-405d-4eed-a966-8d7a4a12f5be

Kids Count Data Center has statistics about the number of children in detention centers.

According to the report, Youth residing in juvenile detention and correctional facilities:
Location Data Type 2001 2003 2006 2007 2010
United States Number 104,219 96,531 92,721 86,814 70,792

Rate 335 306 295 278 225
A change is underway in out nation’s approach to dealing with young people who get in trouble with the law. Although the United States still leads the industrialized world in the rate at which it locks up young people, the youth confinement rate in the US is rapidly declining.
Read Reducing Youth Incarceration in the United States to learn more.


Although, the number of children in detention was declining as of the date of this report, these children must have their needs addressed and the Southern Education Foundation report indicates that that is not happening.

3rd world America: Many young people headed for life on the dole https://drwilda.com/2012/09/21/3rd-world-america-many-young-people-headed-for-life-on-the-dole/

The Civil Rights Project report: Segregation in education https://drwilda.com/2012/09/19/the-civil-rights-project-report-segregation-in-education/

Study: Poverty affects education attainment https://drwilda.com/2012/08/29/study-poverty-affects-education-attainment/

Center for American Progress report: Disparity in education spending for education of children of color https://drwilda.com/2012/08/22/center-for-american-progress-report-disparity-in-education-spending-for-education-of-children-of-color/

Education funding lawsuits against states on the rise https://drwilda.com/2012/01/25/education-funding-lawsuits-against-states-on-the-rise/

3rd world America: The link between poverty and education https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/3rd-world-america-the-link-between-poverty-and-education/

Race, class, and education in America https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/race-class-and-education-in-america/
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