Monday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Here’s a look at today’s top stories affecting children’s rights, juvenile justice, and education:

Expelling Zero Tolerance: Reforming Texas School Discipline for Good, Texas Public Policy Foundation

Grits for Breakfast reports on the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s new report that shows Texas zero tolerance policies needlessly cost taxpayers money while having little effect on student behavior.

Kentucky justices to review law regarding grandparents’ visitation rights, Kentucky Courier-Journal

Twenty years after a ruling that gave grandparents the right to visit their grandchildren over the parents’ objection, the Kentucky Supreme Court is preparing to give the controversial issue another look.

In 1992, the court upheld a state law that allows grandparent visitation if it is in the child’s best interests, ruling that if “a grandparent is physically, mentally and morally fit, then a grandchild will ordinarily benefit from contact with the grandparent.”

But in a case from Louisville that will be argued Friday, the court will revisit the issue for the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the wishes of objecting parents must be given “special weight” and that fit parents must be “presumed to be acting in their child’s best interests.”

Young and Alone, Facing Court and Deportation, New York Times

Juan David Gonzalez was 6 years old. He was in the court, which would decide whether to expel him from the country, without a parent — and also without a lawyer.

Immigration courts in this South Texas border town and across the country are confronting an unexpected surge of children, some of them barely school age, who traveled here without parents and were caught as they tried to cross illegally into the United States.

The young people, mostly from Mexico and Central America, ride to the border on the roofs of freight trains or the backs of buses. They cross the Rio Grande on inner tubes, or hike for days through extremes of heat and chill in Arizona deserts. The smallest children, like Juan, are most often brought by smugglers.

Juvenile justice: Is there a better way? (Opinion piece), Des Moines Register

Minorities, Immigration & Educational Policy in the News

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/03/national/03arizona.html?_r=0

Education Week Snippet: “White House Initiative Targets Education for African Americans” by Lesli A. Maxwell.

President Obama signed an executive order to launch the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The purpose of the initiative is to help high-school and college-bound African Americans by creating “greater access to a complete and competitive education from the time they’re born all through the time they get a career.”

Click here to see full article for a list of the initiative’s specific goals and more information.

U.S. News and World Report Snippet: “States’ DREAM Acts Could Deter High School Dropouts” by Kelsey Sheehy.

“The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act [or DREAM Act] provides a path to citizenship for undocumented students who entered the U.S. as children if they graduate from high school, earn a GED, or are accepted to or enrolled in college.

However, the newest version of the DREAM Act does not provide federal financial aid to undocumented students, and allows states to choose whether undocumented students qualify for in-state college tuition rates. Thus far, eleven states have opted to enact their own versions of the DREAM Act and allow undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities including: Texas, New York, California, Utah, Washington, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Connecticut.

Educational scholars suggest that providing undocumented students with eligibility for in-state tuition rates through the DREAM Act makes college more affordable. Making college a more attainable goal for students will motivate them to stay in school and deter dropouts.

Click here to see the full article for more information.