Education Week - March 7, 2018 - Special Report - S5
outside our [school] accountability mechanisms. ... They
simply disappear; they are invisible," said Zoe Savitsky, the
deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
"We're giving states millions and millions of dollars ostensibly to provide an equitable education with, in many cases,
nothing to show for it."
Students here do want something to show for their
In the "Looking Forward" classroom, a handful of
teenagers talk about what they'll do when they get out-
out of the facility, to be sure, but often also out of their
old schools and communities where they are unsure if
they have a future.
Dominique, a 10th grader, has good grades and wants
to start preparing for nursing school; she hopes to visit a
teacher in her old district when she next gets cleared to
visit home. Her 10th grade classmate Cat, in and out of the
school since the summer after 8th grade, expects to leave
in March, but her former school district may not accept the
credits she earned here over the summer.
"It's frustrating. It doesn't seem like they are trying to
help me," she said of her former school.
Willow, with a high school equivalency diploma in hand
and a scheduled release later this spring, doesn't know
where she'll live or how she'll get money for college, but
she dreams of getting far, far out of town.
"I want to go to Syria and join this rescue group; they go
and pull people out of the rubble after places get bombed,"
she said, then paused. "I think you might have to have
medical training to do that, so I'm not sure I'll be able to
join, but I would really love to do that."
This kind of uncertainty-about credits, connections, or
a meaningful path forward after prison-dogs the nearly
50,000 U.S. students who attend school behind bars. And
it's a concern here at the Girls School, which Education Week
visited earlier this year to get a handle on education innovations for incarcerated students. At the school's request, the
last names of Dominique, Cat, Willow, and the other girls
interviewed for the article are being withheld.
The challenge is intensified by overlap in just who is in
charge of providing education. Only three states require
state or district education agencies to take sole responsibility for providing education in juvenile detention facilities,
according to the most recent study, in 2015, by the Council
of State Governments Justice Center and the federal office
of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. In 41 states,
education and corrections agencies and private providers
share responsibility to teach young people behind bars, and
only 30 states required all corrections schools to be accredited by a nationally recognized group.
The need for more training support was one reason the
school joined the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings's five-year-old consortium of correctional
education agencies in 14 states. The group provides formal
teacher professional development-yearlong fellowships,
summer ed-tech boot camps, and special education support, among other services-in a field in which instructors
often have to teach multiple subjects and don't get nearly the
same ongoing training as their peers in regular districts. It
also studies best practices in prison education-a somewhat
sparse research field-and gives the leaders of these agencies
FACING PAGE: The
Wyoming Girls School
makes use of its remote
location, at the foot of
the Bighorn Mountains,
both for security and
may learn about
horseback riding as part
of physical education or
study farming in science
THIS PAGE, FROM TOP:
A student's locker is
decorated with sobriety
tokens, a reminder of the
trauma and challenges
some of the students are
working to overcome
during their stay.
as they learn about
applying for jobs during
course at the school.
A landmark 2014 study by the research group Rand Corp.
found that adult inmates who participated in prison education programs were 43 percent less likely to return to prison
once released, with some evidence of similar benefits for
younger inmates. Each dollar spent on education programs
returned on average $5 in savings from lower recidivism in
the first three years after prisoners were released.
But Rand also found that, in the aftermath of the 2008
economic downturn, 20 states cut their corrections education budgets, staff, and course offerings. In California,
Florida, and Texas, large states that account for much of
the nation's school-age prison population, the cuts averaged 20 percent.
"Here is your challenge as a teacher," Savitsky said.
"Come up with a lesson plan that requires minimal materials. Ask students to use nothing sharper than a crayon.
Students cannot take any work home, and have no access
to outside resources like the internet. By the way, a third or
more of your students will have special education needs,
and all of your students have experienced trauma. OK, go!"
Teaching Vulnerable Students
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 7, 2018 - Special Report
Education Week - March 7, 2018
Yzmar Roman, an 11th grader in Arecibo, Puerto Rico
Emotional Needs of Students, Educators Crucial to Puerto Rico’s School Recovery
School Districts Weigh Security After Shooting
Is It Time for a Focus on Civics Education?
Immigrants Thrive In Canadian Schools
News in Brief
DACA Continues for Now, as Does Uncertainty for ‘Dreamers’
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Schools Teach ‘Cyber Hygiene’ to Prevent Internet Attacks
States Confront Range of Hurdles To Swift Action on School Security
Teachers With Gun Training Wary of Trump’s Proposal
Eyes on Pearson as It Moves to Sell Curriculum Business
Outside Supreme Court, Union Supporters, Detractors Face Off
Case Over Union Fees Poised on Knife’s Edge
DeVos Eyeing School Choice As Option for Military Families
Q&A with nadine burke harris: In the Wake of Adversity, a Pediatrician’s Guidance
Olga Acosta Price & Wendy Ellis: Schools Shouldn’t Tackle Trauma Alone
Collected responses: After Parkland, Where Do We Go From Here?
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Gregg Behr: The 2020 Census: Every Child Counts
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