The Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) played a major role in an Assembly panel discussion on the impact of Court and Community schools in California. The February 23 discussion, sponsored by Assemblywoman Nora Campos (San Jose) and supported by the California County Boards of Education, was titled "Alternative Pathways to Success: Community and Court Schools."
"The future of California depends on our youth, so I appreciate the fact that you are all here," said Assemblywoman Campos, as she welcomed attendees.
The panel discussion centered on the positive impact Court and Community schools have on the lives of at-risk youth in California. The discussion also focused on understanding the challenges these students face and what efforts are underway to provide them with exemplary programs, as well as efforts to create additional opportunities for our schools to serve as effective pathways to success.
"My life would be so much different if I did not have a community school to attend," testified Erin Newby, a student at E. L. Hickey Jr./Sr. High School, a SCOE community school. "I know that without the support I got I would have dropped out of school and more likely ended up in jail because of my issues."
Court schools provide public education for incarcerated juveniles in county-run detention facilities. County community schools are also administered by county offices of education. These schools provide an educational placement for a variety of students, including those expelled from their regular schools, referred by a School Attendance Review Board (SARB), referred at the request of a parent or guardian, referred by probation, or those who are homeless.
Barbara Modlin, the 2010 SCOE Teacher of the Year, provided details about the LINKS career technical education model followed at her school in which services are tailored to individual students based on their specific needs instead of through traditional, scripted education.
"Our young people need programs like ours that provide stability and consistency, programs that motivate them to strive for excellence and teach them the skills necessary to make sure they are successful in whatever path they choose," testified SCOE teacher Barbara Modlin. "Please do not turn them away because of lack of funding."
"We believe in having career and technical education, and career guidance for every student," said Tim Taylor, SCOE Assistant Superintendent of Court/Community Schools & ROP. "To me, cutting these programs is not an option."
Panelists also discussed funding issues, the current accountability system, and the impact of the ongoing Juvenile Justice Realignment. The objective of the Alternative Education Task Force, which organized the panel, is to make legislative suggestions regarding the fiscal challenges institutional and community school programs face.