Illinois juvenile justice center, community college partner for summer courses
- A pilot program offered by Illinois’ Elgin Community College, the Kane County Regional Office of Education and the Juvenile Justice Center is giving juvenile detainees a chance to earn high school and college credit at once, over the summer.
- USA Today reports six students took a "College 101" course that concluded at the end of June, and about the same number are taking "General Student Development" this month.
- The program aims to give students educational opportunities that will make it easier for them to transition back into their high schools and communities, given that RAND corporation research shows correctional education makes inmates 43% less likely to return to prison than other inmates.
The Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind, requires states to prove they provide students detained in the juvenile justice system with credit-bearing coursework. It also requires proof that schools have a process in place to get students back to school in a timely manner after they leave detention. These two regulations are expected to be a positive step, but not enough. Children who come into contact with the juvenile justice system are far more likely than their peers to drop out of school, and many of them have learning disabilities to begin with.
If they make the difficult transition back to school from the juvenile justice center, they are almost guaranteed to be even farther behind than when they left and they are very likely to face additional scrutiny from teachers and administrators who have labeled them troublemakers. Once students get these labels — whether it’s because they’re boys, or black, or they have a criminal record — research shows they get more punitive discipline, even when compared to other students exhibiting the same behaviors. Many schools, however, are turning to new discipline models like restorative justice and focusing on teacher training to reverse these trends.
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