Clearinghouse Review’s March–April 2014 issue, focused on education, inaugurates the journal’s venture into a single theme for every issue. Five articles show how legal aid and public interest advocates can help families and communities avail of high-quality education—the bedrock of future success for children. As planned, a sixth article, on youth identity theft, is unrelated to the theme.
A high-quality public education is the foundation for children’s successful future. Federal laws provide protections against illegal discrimination in education, and advocates assist clients in overcoming complications in achieving a good education. This first Clearinghouse Review theme issue, on education, asks advocates to consider the variables affecting a child’s chances for school success and what can be done to improve those chances.
Many of us believe in the American dream—the n
Socioeconomic Student Assignment Plans: Opportunities for Low-Income Families and Racial Diversity in K–12 Public Schools
A socioeconomic student assignment plan is a method of enrolling students in public schools that gives families a choice and better opportunities for their children to attend high-quality schools with a racially and economically diverse student body. Information and transparency are key in a socioeconomic student assignment process. Antipoverty and education advocates should consider pursuing socioeconomic student assignment plans in their communities.
Sustainable communities and affordable housing are not always mentioned in discussions about how to improve American schools. However, housing advocates understand that healthy, integrated neighborhoods are the foundations of solid public school systems. If education advocates work with housing advocates to deepen their understanding of how housing affects education, students across the country will benefit.
In spite of long-standing federal requirements designed to prepare people with disabilities for integrated, competitive employment, many students with disabilities are shuttled to sheltered workshops when they leave school. In these workshops they earn far below the minimum wage. Why the school-to-sheltered-workshop pipeline persists can be explained, but enforcing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Rehabilitation Act’s requirements when a student transitions out of school should help more students with disabilities find competitive employment.
A growing number of schools offer all their students free meals through the new federal community eligibility option, which makes it easier for high-poverty schools to provide free breakfast and lunch and eliminate the administrative work associated with identifying and tracking each child’s eligibility for free or reduced-price meals. Advocates should use a variety of strategies to offer meals for free and eliminate barriers to participation, including stigma.
Youths in foster care face many educational barriers—and those hurdles do not disappear when youths “age out” of foster care. The instability of foster care can lead to educational gaps that hinder the college prospects of youths in foster care. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 reduces these harms, and states should fully implement its protections. Foster youths seeking higher education may lack not only money but also a strong support network. States’ higher-education systems should offer both financial and mentoring support for those students.
Over 26,000 children in the foster care system turn 18 every year. A foster child's credit damaged by identity theft creates a major obstacle to financial stability and independence. The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011 requires that each foster child, from age 16 until emancipation, receive a free credit report each year and assistance in correcting inaccuracies. Working with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and its resources, advocates can help repair foster youth credit. Using the Fair Credit Reporting Act or partnering with child welfare agencies may work. The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and FTC partner to assist teenagers who are aging out of the foster care system.