Center for Children, Law & Policy Welcomes Two New Staff Members

Please join the Center for Children, Law & Policy at the University of Houston Law Center in welcoming two new members of the Center’s team! Shiloh and Alex are both recent graduates of the University of Houston Law Center and both were Irene Merker Rosenberg Scholars during their time in law school. Both Shiloh and Alex will continue their fantastic work to further develop and advance the Center’s mission.

Shiloh2 115x115@1xShiloh Carter
UHLC Graduate Public Interest Fellow
J.D., University of Houston Law Center
B.S.,  University of Texas at Austin

Shiloh Carter is working as a Graduate Fellow for the Center for Children, Law, & Policy. Prior to law school, Shiloh received her bachelor degree in Communications Sciences and Disorders from the University of Texas. As an undergraduate, she worked with children with special needs.

During law school, Shiloh worked as a scholar for the Center for Children, Law, & Policy and completed internships with Kids In Need of a Defense (KIND) and the Crimes Against Children Section of the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office. In addition, Shiloh volunteers with Child Advocates as a court appointed special advocate and has completed four cases. She has received numerous awards for her dedication to public interest work including the Center for Children, Law, & Policy Napoleon Beazley Defender Award 2013, the University of Houston Law Center Distinguished Service Award 2013, the Ann Dinsmore Forman Memorial Child Advocacy Award 2012, and the Robert Allen Memorial Student Excellence Award 2012.

Alex2 115x115@1xAlex Hunt
Yale & Irene Merker Rosenberg Graduate Fellow
J.D., University of Houston Law Center
B.A.,  University of Texas at Austin

Alex Hunt is a Yale & Irene Rosenberg Graduate Fellow at the Center for Children, Law & Policy. Alex graduated from the University of Texas in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in government. Before entering law school, he taught middle school math at YES Prep  Southwest in Houston  with Teach For America. In 2010, he received New Leaders’ EPIC Spotlight Teacher Award, a national award for teachers with outstanding student growth.

Alex graduated cum laude from the University of Houston Law Center in May 2013. During law school, Alex was Casenotes & Comments Editor for the Houston Journal of International Law, interned for both state and federal judges, and  served as Vice President of the Health Law Organization (HLO). In addition, Alex has received the Irving J. Weiner Memorial Scholarship Award (for a year of outstanding work in the UH Law Center Legal Clinic), the Napoleon Beazley Defender Award (for outstanding work on behalf of children), the Ann Dinsmore Forman Memorial Child Advocacy Award, the Mont P. Hoyt Memorial Writing Award for an Outstanding Comment on a Topic in International Law, and he was a finalist for Texas Access to Justice’s Law Student Pro Bono Award.

What’s Going RIGHT In Public Education: Highlighting the Positive (And Where We Go From Here)

http://www.movingwithmath.com/learning-system/response-to-intervention/

The state of public education in America is a topic that attracts the attention of a diverse crowd. The impact public schools have on children is felt by more than the students, parents, and educators directly involved in a child’s education. Education serves as the foundation for every industry in America’s economy. In the past, our nation’s educational strength powered the American economy to international greatness. Today, however, educational news is overwhelmingly negative. Dropout rates, bullying, racial division, gangs, ineffective teachers, insufficient funding, and restrictive standardized tests dominate news coverage.

The focus on what is wrong with our educational system is not completely misguided. Numerous studies and interviews with business leaders have indicated that the U.S. economy is being held back by its failure to educate a generation of students to their full potential. One recent study has even linked education with our nation’s security. However, the negative aspects of public education are only part of the story. Throughout the country, educational leaders have turned their unconventional ideas into action–and succeeded.

This month, I will post a series of posts focusing on achievements in public education. There’s enough out there about the negatives. Those stories won’t be hard to find with a quick Google search. Instead, I will focus on the unique ideas from unlikely leaders that are transforming public education.

Some topics that will be covered include:

  • how  virtual or “online” schools are reducing costs and expanding accessibility to personalized, differentiated education,
  • the unconventional methods used by David Domenici and James Forman, Jr. in their See Forever Schools to make education for kids in juvenile detention useful and worthwhile, and
  • how Geoffrey Canada and Harlem Children’s Zone have successfully taken a holistic, cradle-to-college approach from a ninety-seven block area in New York to “promise neighborhoods” all throughout the country.

There will inevitably be some discussion of what’s going wrong in education today. Any discussion about education would be incomplete without it. However, each post will primarily focus on the positive, forward-looking, and assets-based thinking that has led to pockets of achievement in the unlikeliest places.

What More Can Be Done?: After Ohio Shooting, Bullying Is Back in the Spotlight

http://cheapceus.blogspot.com/2012/03/signs-of-mental-ilness-in-children.html

On Monday, February 27, 2012, 17 year-old Ohio student T.J. Lane allegedly opened fire on his Chardon High School classmates. Early reports sound familiar to what has been reported after similar incidents: T.J. was a “loner” that became increasingly disconnected from students he used to call friends, he had family issues, and he was the target of bullying.

Although much of the news coverage has surrounded Ohio gun laws, accessibility of minors to deadly weapons, and T.J. Lane’s personal history, attention should be paid to changes that can create safer school environments. Justice Policy Institute (JPI) has done extensive research on school safety, and last month JPI released a list of best practices that can make schools safer:

  • Implement evidence-based initiatives proven to improve safety in schools. School districts should work toward abandoning zero tolerance and law enforcement responses to student behavior and begin relying on evidence-based programs that include peer mediation, mentoring and peaceable education.
  • Hire more counselors. Guidance counselors and school psychologists are trained to be mentors and work with youth, and are a positive investment in schools. However, schools are not fully staffing according to accepted standards. The American School Counselor Association says that school counselors should consider their roles to include skills in conflict-resolution particular to schools, to intervene in cases of bullying and harassment, and to prevent and intervene in cases where there might be substance abuse issues or the potential for violence. Fully implemented guidance counselor programs have also been found to promote feelings of safety in both poorer and wealthier schools.
  • Invest in education over increased justice system responses to student behavior. With the array of negative collateral consequences associated with involvement in the juvenile justice system, it is important that policymakers and administrators focus efforts to better our education system as opposed to relying on increased justice system interventions. Some ways to both improve student achievement and promote safer schools include increased hiring of quality teachers, staff, counselors, and other positive role models; building safe, clean schools; and providing training and supports for teachers and staff related to behavior management.
  • Avoid policies that will make schools less safe, and harm kids. Unnecessary referrals to the juvenile justice system disrupt a student’s educational process – practices that can lead to suspension, expulsion, or other alienation from school. These negative effects set youth on a track to drop out of school and put them at greater risk of becoming involved in the justice system later on, all at tremendous costs to the youth themselves, their families, their communities and to taxpayers. More police in schools, including School Resource Officers (SROs) have not been shown to create more safety, and can have negative impacts both on school environment and on youth, as schools rely on arrests rather than school-based responses, pulling youth into the justice system.

JPI has worked on other educational initiatives, including a November 2011 report, “Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools.”

Alternatives to juvenile detention were a major focus of this weekend’s 11th Annual Zealous Advocacy Conference held at the University of Houston Law Center. The conference was videotaped and will be available for CLE credit through the Center for Children, Law & Policy as early as next week. Please email Center4CLP@gmail.com if you are interested.

School bullying will continue to be a spotlight issue going forward. The new documentary, Bully, hits theaters this Friday, March 30th.

As always, please feel free to leave constructive comments about the Zealous Advocacy Conference, Bully, or any thoughts on how to make our schools safer for all students.