In the Baltimore Sun article, NAACP requests federal investigation into juvenile justice education, Erica L. Green cites the injustices that continue to pursue for our nation’s incarcerated children. The details she provides coincides with the fact that in 2011 Read and O’Cummings published a study that concluded – of our nation’s approximate 2700 juvenile facilities, only 65% of them were offering an educational program for all of its incarcerated youth. Furthermore, only 46% of the children who indicated that they had an IEP (Individualized Education Program) prior to their adjudication, reported they were actually receiving the special education services outlined in their lEP. In 2008, the average amount of funds spend to incarcerate a youth was $241 per day, and those numbers continue to increase.
We must ensure that everyone is being held accountable to provide the necessary education programs so when these youth transition back to their communities they can make proper contributions to society. While this is sad to learn about the continual obstacles our most marginalized population faces, it is a reality that change must come soon. Please know this is a nation and world wide crisis not just a state of Maryland issue.
While working on my doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, I began researching this topic and even more specifically, what support structures are needed for the principals and teachers who work in these settings to help ensure they are providing a high quality education for these youth. Four main themes emerged from this study – the importance of relationships, expectations, resources, and accountability. It’s the first book of it’s kind.
The Council of State Governments also recently published an eye opening report available online titled: LOCKED OUT: Improving Educational and Vocational Outcomes for Incarcerated Youth.
Let’s continue to do all we can to help every child and society succeed!