Top Headlines 11/16

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Child Welfare

The hot public debate in Nebraska over how fast to proceed with privatization of child welfare reached the top rungs of government when Gov. Dave Heineman spoke yesterday with Journal Star reporter JoAnne Young. “I hope everybody realizes what we've been doing in the last 40 years hasn't worked,” Heineman told Young. “Nebraska has one of the largest percentages of out-of-home placements in America.”

Trisha Ploehn, the head of Los Angeles County’s troubled child welfare system, said in a letter drafted by her lawyer that she was the victim of a “smear campaign.” National family preservation advocate Richard Wexler wrote today that Ploehn needs to go, and the county should look to her predecessor for help getting things back on track.

Vermont wants schools more engaged on sexual abuse issues with students, reports the Burlington Free Press, and various government agencies pitched in to help develop this website for school officials to use.

Education/Jobs

The Council of Great City Schools conducted an in-depth analysis of data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and in this report declares that the academic distance between black boys and their white counterparts reflects a “national catastrophe.” Study authors write that a national, White House-coordinated effort to address the achievement gap is necessary.

Huffington Post columnist Mike Green disagrees. Black men (especially wealthy ones), and not the White House, need to run point on efforts to narrow the achievement gap for black boys.

Elizabeth Willis of the Battle Creek Enquirer reports on a local Michigan newspaper profiled an afters-chool program that is showing positive results in a community with a high teen pregnancy rate. The program requires its middle school and high school students to complete volunteer service hours but in return they receive a $150 gift card.

The Poughkeepsie Journal points out a new feature within the New York State Department of Labor’s website that assists youth with employment opportunities. There are two separate links tailored for youth ages 14 to 17 and 18 to 24.

The charter school application process is dissected in two separate pieces this week: one from the Washington Post’s Stephanie McCrummen on the DC public charter school board, which currently has 96 charter schools enrolling a combined 38 percent of DC’s public school students; and a second article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s D. Aileen Dodd about the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, currently facing a pending State Supreme Court case questioning the commission’s ability to fund and approve new charter schools.

Juvenile Justice

Tennessee legislators will have to pass a law that dictates which which juveniles to its sex offender registry under the Adam Walsh Act or lose a few million dollars in federal funding, reports Tennessean’s Brandon Gee. This is a legislative debate that almost every state in the nation will have to have before July of 2011, the deadline to comply with the act, which was passed in 2006 but has had its compliance deadline pushed back twice already.

Staff at the Nevada Youth Training Center tell Las Vegas Sun reporter Steve Kanigher that the facility has become a more dangerous place to work since the state closed its highest-security juvenile facility, the Summit View Youth Correctional Center.

Miscellaneous

The National Council of La Raza looks at 12 issues around childhood obesity and family nutrition in the Latino community. Among the topics: food insecurity; school-based nutrition in Latino areas; and access to federal nutrition assistance programs.

Click here to read the report.