Top Headlines 8/10

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Child Welfare

The top Miami administrator of Florida’s Department of Children and Families, who was reprimanded for the handling of the Barahona twins – Nubia was killed and her brother Victor was seriously injured – is retiring. Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald reports that Jacqui Colyer will be replaced by a former prosecutor.


The Obama administration is granting states relief from sanctions imposed by the No Child Left Behind Act, but only if they agree to new requirements including higher statewide academic standards and targeted plans to address the worst-performing schools, reports Amanda Paulson of the Christian Science Monitor. Some Republicans are already questioning the legality of the move, she reports; the administration believes that the expiration of NCLB’s authorization three years ago makes it possible for the Education Department to set new guidelines.

Valerie Strauss, who blogs about education for the Washington Post, sees the move as strong-arming. Strauss also includes a post on her blog from Monty Neill from the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, who has no love for the test-based sanctions Duncan seeks to replace, but said the alternative standards he will ask for are equally bad. Neill urged states to pass on the waivers.

New York City middle and high school students will have to take sex education courses this year, part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's initiative to improve the lives of African-American and Latino youth, according to Fernanda Santos and Anna M. Phillipps of The New York Times.

Juvenile Justice

Oregon’s new mandatory sentencing law has pushed a disproportionate number of African-American youths into the adult criminal system. Ryan Kost of  The Oregonian reports that while only 4 percent of the state’s population is African-American, 19 percent of those indicted under the new law are African-American.  About 61 percent of them wind up with plea deals that allow them to sidestep the mandatory sentence, but wind up with adult criminal records that will follow them for the rest of their lives.

Former Luzerne, Pa., juvenile court judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. is to be sentenced Thursday for his role in the so-called “kids for cash” scheme and his attorney is asking for a “reasonable sentence,” particularly no more than the 87-months he had agreed to serve under the plea deal, from which he withdrew. reports that Ciavarella’s attorney says his client is a possible target of “abuse” in federal prison.