What’s new in public policy? Mid-November, 2018

Janet ForbushBy Janet Forbush

Background:  The mid-term election has come and gone, or, has it?  Despite the fact it is nearly ten days since voters went to the polls across the country on November 6, in a number of races , results may still be weeks away.  This is attributable to a variety of local and state level isses associated with ballots, voter access to polls,  and the process in place for counting ballots.  The counting process is a virtual maze of differentiation in the ways ballots are managed and counted, e.g., electronically or by hand, suggests the overall system needs an  verhaul in many jurisdictions.

While we await final data on results in key U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races, it is noteworthy to acknowledge impressive and historic wins of 125 somen representing diverse backgrounds, faiths, and experience.  This  will enrich the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in years to come.  The potential impact of this new group of legislators is, of course, unknown.  However, for girls and young women in our country, this is an exciting and memorable time.

The mid-term results signal another valuable opportunity for Chronicle readers to learn about your new representatives and/or senators, who their staff members are and their roles with respect to youth issues. Reach out in the coming weeks and introduce yourself to them soon.  We are less than three months ‘out’ from the 2019 National Mentoring Summit so this is a good time to get acquainted with new people on the Hill.  In addition, be aware of whether your current House member and/or Senators might now be transitioning into a chairmanship on a key Committee overseeing appropriations or policymaking in juvenile justice, education, workforce development, and STEM.  These are just a few of the countless changes that will occur in the coming weeks.


Federal and State Developments

ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization, has a new database which highlights findings from a project called Miseducation.  The project compiled federal education data in a way that makes it easy to compare schools and districts.  While some of the statistics are discouraging, at best, some new initiatives have been launched in cities and states that are encouraging.  A few are described below.

  • Colorado:  The state’s unusually high percentage of new classroom teachers means schools that serve poor students are perpetually staring from scratch.  This has the potential for making long-term and positive changes as long as districts can ‘hang-on’ to the teachers and keep them in the profession.
  • Indiana: In Indianapolis schools, whita students are far more likely than black students to be enrolled in gifted programs.  However, the central district recently adopted a new strategy to keep students from falling through the cracks engaging more personnel to work with struggling youth.  (Note:: Oitebtuak rike fir nebtirs as the Indianapolis district is receptive.)
  • Tennessee: The state has almost more new teachers than anywhere else in the country. It’s also home to a wide range of new incentives to get educators to stick around including assistance in finding affordable, family-friendly housing.a


New Report from Annie E. Casey Foundation on Foster Care Youth Challenges

“Fostering Youth Transitions, a new report from the Casey Foundation, casts more illumination on the challenges of foster care youth as they mature and move into adulthood.  The report is based on findings from all 50 states in the country and sheds disturbing circumstances regarding educational attainment and financial security confronting the youth.

A news release disseminated by the Foundation suggested that “Young people at 18 or 21 are at this point of falling off a cliff because they don’t have the support or services they need.” according to
Leslie Gross, director of the Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.

According to the report, by the age of 21young people who experienced foster care reported significantly lower rates of high school graduation and employment.  Than all young people overall. The rates for black youth in foster care are even more marginalized.  They study’s authors hoe the data will lead to changes in local, state, and federal policies affecting foster care youth.  The also suggest there is room for improvement in all of these different policy levels to be stronger advocates for foster youth.


Reading Recommendation

Chronicle readers will perhaps be attracted to a recent work by Francis Fukuyama “‘Identity’ – The Demand for Dignity and The Politics of Resentment.”  This book could be considered a sequel to the books on civility shared with everyone earlier this month.  Grab a few rare and quiet moments over the Thanksgiving Holiday, truly an elegant celebration in our country, and gain the perspective of Fukuyama who has posited in recent years that there are some remarkable challenges and strengths in this great country of ours.  Perhaps they need to be revisited and use the ‘silver cleaning cloth’ to think about what we, as individuals can contribute to the revitalization of all good things that are American.