In Focus

May 22, 2015  |  PERMALINK »

Supporting the Academic Success of Black Girls

By Andrea Barnes

Black girls are entering the “school-to-prison pipeline” at alarming rates, according to a report from the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies and the African American Policy Forum. The school-to-prison pipeline, which refers to the link between punitive disciplinary measures in school and subsequent involvement in the juvenile or criminal justice systems, is a recognized barrier for young black males. Black boys are suspended and expelled more frequently than any other demographic group; as a result, they are typically the focus of academic research and advocacy. The impact of school discipline on girls, particularly Black girls, is largely ignored by scholars, leading many stakeholders to believe they are not affected.   However, a close review of the data tells a different story.

Analyzing U.S. Department of Education data on school suspensions for the 2011-2012 school year, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected finds that race may be a more significant factor for females than it is for males. Black males were suspended more than three times as often as their White counterparts, while Black girls were suspended six times as often as their White counterparts.

The researchers utilized focus groups of school-age girls to further identify their achievement barriers. The girls describe their schools as chaotic environments that prioritize discipline over education and do not meet their emotional needs.  Many of their challenges are gender-specific, including interpersonal violence, sexual harassment and bullying, teen pregnancy and parenting, and family caretaking responsibilities.

There are numerous reasons Black girls are underserved. Lifting them up requires a range of solutions at the school, district, and state levels. Federal policy can also spark and support change. The report makes several recommendations for supporting Black girls’ success in school:

While Black boys experience the greatest disparities in educational outcomes, Black girls also have many challenges.  As we seek out solutions for Black boys, we must also study and address girls’ unique needs.

Read more about CLASP’s work on youth of color>>>

Apr 8, 2015  |  PERMALINK »

Celebrating Native American Youth: Leadership and Resiliency

By Andrew Mulinge

Recently, the Aspen Institute’s Center for Native American Youth held its fourth annual Champions for Change celebration. The event recognized the extraordinary work of resilient young men and women in Native American, Alaskan native, and Native Hawaiian communities across the country.

The young leaders’ inspiring work is a constructive response to the hardships and tragedies they have experienced. They discussed channeling their challenges and pain into innovative programs that address suicide, sexual abuse, cultural preservation, and mentorship for their peers. These programs are critically important; too often, communities perpetuate trauma instead of supporting those who experience it.

Chronic trauma and adversity are key public health issues with major implications for the wellbeing of youth—especially those in American Indian and Alaskan Native communities. Barriers to positive youth development  include violence, abuse, and neglect, as well as chronic stressors like unemployment, racism, lack of adequate health care, and social isolation. Chronic trauma and adversity in childhood can interrupt normal brain development; this has long-term consequences for learning, behavior, and physical and mental health.

To read more click here >>>

Apr 2, 2015  |  PERMALINK »

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Draft Regulations Released

By Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success

Today, draft regulations to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) were posted to the Federal Register website. WIOA is the first update to the nation’s core workforce training programs since the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) 16 years ago. The draft regulations mark an important milestone in WIOA implementation. They come in five parts, known as Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs), that each address different aspects of the law:

The regulations will be published to the Federal Register on April 16, 2015. At that point, the public can submit comments at for 60 days. The Departments plan to analyze these public comments and anticipate issuing Final Rules implementing WIOA in early 2016. We encourage stakeholders at the state and local levels committed to advancing opportunities for low-income youth and adults with barriers to economic success to submit comments.

CLASP looks forward to carefully reviewing the draft regulations and providing analysis to the field and comments to the Departments on ways to best serve low-income and lower-skilled youth and adults through WIOA.

Don’t miss CLASP’s WIOA Game Plan for Low-Income People, which includes strategies to implement the law and help low-income families and individuals climb the economic ladder.

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