Top Headlines 12/21

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Child Welfare

The Associated Press reports that a blue ribbon panel in Texas is recommending that the state grant more authority to private contractors in an attempt to overhaul the Texas child welfare system. The panel's suggestion of a lead entity that would govern other providers in the region sounds similar to the approach Florida took to privatization.


Juvenile Justice

A news release from the White House yesterday said that Beatrice Hanson, who was nominated to lead the Office for Victims of Crime at the Justice Department, has withdrawn from the confirmation process.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants the city to take control of its entire juvenile justice operation, reports the New York Daily News' Samuel Goldsmith. The city would forgo the use of the troubled state facilities under Bloomberg's plan.

Madison County, Tenn., will miss former juvenile judge Walter Baker Harris, reports the Jackson Sun's Mariann Martin. Harris died over the weekend at the age of 79.

Kenneth Ofgang of California's Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports on a federal appeals court decision this week that will allow accused juvenile sex offenders in California to seek a jury trial. The state law in question bans offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. That collateral consequence of a conviction is onerous enough, the court ruled, that an offender should be entitled to let a jury decide his fate. 

Education/Jobs

The Santa Monica Daily Press’ Nick Taborek writes that the latest state figures show the high school dropout rate for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (California) increased from 8.1 percent to 13.5 percent in just one year. Local officials say the dramatic rise in dropouts is due to a more accurate tracking system for students who transfer schools.

The growth of charter schools in the state of Texas is broken down in the Dallas Morning News with a five-part series of features by Holly K. Hacker.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) officially announced his nomination for the state's education commissioner: former deputy New York City schools chancellor Christopher D. Cerf. The Newark Star-Ledger’s Jeanette Rundquist reports Cerf, a current board member at a Newark charter school, supports such teacher reforms as merit-based pay and removal of tenure.