At-Risk Youth Deserve More

The education of our most vulnerable youth in Santa Clara County should be at the top of our agenda as a civil society. A high-quality educational program implemented for delinquent, foster and truant youth built around their academic, social, emotional and developmental needs and addictions would increase the quality of life for the student and the entire community. It would even reduce our state deficit if we have fewer adults in prison at a cost of $45,000 each per year.

The Santa Clara County Office of Education serves around 400 students in its Alternative Schools. These students are in grades 7-12 and are status offenders—that is, they have not committed an act that would be considered a crime if it were committed by an adult (curfew violations, truancy etc.). In addition, the Alternative Schools Department serves more than 300 incarcerated youth in classrooms at juvenile hall and the three ranch schools—most incarcerated for a violent crime.

Wednesday, Feb. 9, at 5pm, I will gavel open the third special meeting of 2011 in the Office of Education Board Room at 1290 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose. This is primarily a one-topic meeting dealing with a report on our alternative education programs compiled by WestEd, a nonprofit educational agency based in San Francisco. The report can be found at

When I am introduced to someone as the President of the Board of Education, I far too often am confronted with a staccato of questions that begin with “Why do we need a County Office of Education? Can’t we eliminate this unnecessary level of educational bureaucracy?” I try to respond in a manner that honors the question, but explains the importance of the role of the office. By statute the County Offices directly serve the students that school districts usually cannot, including those who are delinquent, truant, or emotionally disturbed, or are in special education, istate child development centers and Head Start.

The WestEd report’s recommendations are listed below:

For the SCCOE’s Alternative Education Program reform to be successful, reform should proceed from the ground up and be teacher based. Without teacher buy-in, all of the efforts devoted to change may proved unsuccessful.

SCCOE should spearhead the coordination of services among a greater number of community agencies and individuals invested in improving circumstances for alternative education students.

WestEd suggests that the SCCOEW develop a coordinated system of service delivery so that all staff, students, parents, and referring districts are aware of the supports available.

SCCOE should create a stronger sense of community in its Alternative Schools Program.

To ensure fidelity of curriculum implementation, SCCOE should consider slowing down the training and implementation schedule of the new curriculum.

SCCOE needs to create more positive relationships among staff and between staff and students.

WestEd strongly encourages SCCOE to develop a plan based on some of the findings and actionable recommendations presented in this report to guide the AEP efforts moving forward.

I would like to invite community members interested in these issues to be present and participate in the discussion and planning for our next steps. My goal is to produce an environment and program that celebrates our most vulnerable students as students of opportunity. No doubt my career has taught me that the students in these programs today can become strong advocates and leaders for Santa Clara County in the future if given the skill set to read, write, speak, and lead.

Hope to see some SJI readers and commenters there.

Joseph Di Salvo is a member of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Board of Trustees. He is a San Jose native. His columns reflect his personal opinion.


  1. > WestEd strongly encourages SCCOE to develop a plan based on some of the findings and actionable recommendations presented in this report to guide the AEP efforts moving forward.

    As a veteran of the business community and a person trained in management, this is where I would lose it!

    If any consultant offered up this type of “recommendation”, I would jump up on the conference table, kick over the water pitcher, throw the PowerPoint projector, and start yelling:

    “What did I just pay you morons a gazillion dollars for?  To come back here and tell ME to develop a plan?”



    “CRAP! CRAP! CRAP!!”




  2. Joseph,
    I emailed you but never heard back. I assume this is where I bring the scholarship applications, and make the announcement? If so, I’ll be there!

  3. I feel that more attention, resources, and (perhaps most importantly) respect need to be given to “at risk” youth.  This is our opporubity as a society to make a difference and hopefully alter a person’s course, for the better.  I feel that as a member of the great human society it is a moral imperative to do so.  People often ask why so much money is spent on prisoners.  I think the better question to ask is: how do we create a sociey with less prisoners?  I think part of the answer is by giving people a sense of hope, that they can and should live productive lives.  I spent the majority of my childhood in Richmond, California, where poverty abounds.  People that lose hope and become apathetic are doomed to repeat the cycle of poverty and all that it entails.  Often I witnessed this apathy, and how having no hope of change can lead to sad choices.  If we can give young people the tools to be successful and competitive, then we not only provide them with a way of supporting themselves financially, but also of being able to hold their head high and of knowing that their lives matter.  By coming together as teachers, parents, students, and a community and by recognizing that each and every person in society has value and can share that value with the community, then we can attain the greater goal of ensuring every person can find a place in society that he/she can be proud of.  ( and the bonus is less people in prison which correlates to more money in our state coffers)

  4. Dear Joseph,

      I will not be able to attend this meeting.  It would be nice if meetings could be streamed live, and archived for later viewing in the same manner that the CSJ does on their website.  With our shared interest in mind I will offer up a few of my suggestions as they relate to this posting and as proof of my attention to your blog.

      I’d like to begin by adressing “at risk students”  The number of at risk students seems low to me.  I imagine it has to do more with who is gettng caught as a status offender rather then an indicative of what the actual percentage/numbers are…  I do see this as an opportunity to consolidate a lot of your musings though. 

    First and foremost, I think that the offering of more flexible schedules for school to the parents and student body is going to be a major part of the structural integrity of anything you hope to achieve.  It will be a framework of rebar and cement and serve as your foundation. 

    The potential for better accuracy in individual, and group assessments as it relates to performance, and needs of students is, I believe self evident. 

    Secondly once such a foundation is laid and the assessments are made, planning a budget for future projects will be easier, more accurate and less wasteful.

    Projects that should serve at risk youth, are programs already used elsewhere, yes they have them in Thailand but even our cousins in Europe have them too. What I’m refering to is your blog post regarding vocational education.

    In France, if you’re a a fool, you get sent to culinary school.  The teachers there are too busy to teaching students who want to learn to deal with class clowns and fools.  If you don’t settle down by the age of 14, it’s off to culinary school for you.  And look at Frances Food culture, it is not suffering.

    Closer to me now, in Thailand it is much the same.  The government here only recently voted to extend government financed education to 15 years up from 6 years of financed education, but to accomodate the huge population of people who could not afford to pay for school from grades 6-12 there are many technical colleges available.  I liked your idea of expanding vocation programs.  They serve at risk students and spark interest in areas they would otherwise not have access to weather it is machining, cooking, construction or anything else.

    Silicon Valley as a matter of pride should have THE BEST Network Systems Administrator Vocation Programs in the country that includes Systems administration but also the little odds and ends like cutting network cable to length, making your own cables, soldering etc.  My brother could expand on curriculum for such a school better then I but I think I made my point. I cannot speak for him but I think he would concur that this aspect of the IT field is rapidly entering the realm of vocational studies for the average user and business.

    “SCCOE should spearhead the coordination of services among a greater number of community agencies and individuals invested in improving circumstances for alternative education students.”

    There are plenty of people who can teach vocations in their respective fields that need work and can also perform excellent as administrators.  Reaching out to the individuals over agencies and establishments can be more dynamic and should constitute a substatial proportion of the entire coordination.  Likewise to completely marginalize Agencies and institutions would be counter-revolutionary to your goals which is why I think corporate sponsorship should be considered;  think of it as a canal dug off the bailout river… its one way we can get some of those dollars back where they belong, and as one San Jose District 9 candidate said during his campaign, it’s one way of letting industry tell us where we need to invest our education dollars.

    “To ensure fidelity of curriculum implementation, SCCOE should consider slowing down the training and implementation schedule of the new curriculum” 

    Is there even a new curriculum?  The reason I ask is because I am defaulting to my scheduling obsession.  Why risk creating a costly curriculum and training only to scrap it later if or when it’s realized that our assessments are grossly inaccurate?  The other option is that we get lucky and it turns out the assessments undervalued the needs, and we simply need to train more staff(less costly but still an avoidable cost), and that is unlikely.  It’s like hoping that your river card at Bay 101 comes up and you make your straight.  It could happen, but it’s less likely to happen then not. And last I checked slow and sure works but not when it’s preceded by “I hope”

    SCCOE needs to create more positive relationships among staff and between staff and students.

    Again scheduling, accessibility.  When they have more unrushed time (Parents teachers Students, Administrators)  Relationships can be nurtured. I know the workload of a teacher reasonably well now and I’d encourage civic duty programs that parents can can help the teacher with some of the more mundane and time consuming things like correcting bubble tests or editing essays.  Teachers that can devote more time creatng lesson plans and giving one on one time to students will generate better results then one scratching up a lesson plan before class underneath a mountain of homework and tests waiting to be corrected.

    WestEd strongly encourages SCCOE to develop a plan based on some of the findings and actionable recommendations presented in this report to guide the AEP efforts moving forward. 

    Stay on schedule.

    Hope I’ve helped.

    Nicholas Cortese.

  5. I agree with Jen.  To me it seems completely illogical to complain about the growing numbers of at-risk youth in this country while we continue to cut money to help them.  Most criminals were once at-risk youth, and the numbers of those who could have been saved (for lack of a better and less condescending word) while unknowable, is likely staggering.
    There is a split in values in this country, where the children are supposed to be our future, yet we are consistently stealing from them, thereby limiting their future possibilities.
    It is important to recognize the value of not only the children whose potential is obvious, but the possibly even greater value of the at-risk children.  Those who grow up in dangerous home or neighborhood environments can be even better members of society as they can inspire others from similar backgrounds or return to their neighborhoods to help others.

  6. This really should be at the top of our list. My parents work at an after-school center in a high risk area and they have seen incredible results. We may never know or see the full impact that a dedicated team of people and resources may have on at-risk youth. Aside from keeping these kids off the street you are providing them a chance at college and a chance at a decent life. A story was told of a girl who came back to the center years later and told everyone that the fact that she was hugged so often helped her the most. She is now in college. Money and resources are fantastic and needed. But I think we sometimes underestimate the basic need for community and friendship far too often.

  7. As an individual with a background in child and adolescent development, I have seen a wealth of research that supports Joe’s claims. It is extremely important to reach children with emotional, social, and behavioral problems early on before these problems develop into more serious issues such as violent and deviant behavior. The same is true for addressing the issue of the environment that children are raised in. This particular factor has shown to have a large impact on children’s development and can be either positive or negative depending on the quality of said environment. Research has shown a strong correlation between education and criminal behavior; positive attitudes and educational achievement have been associated with decreased deviant/criminal behavior. It is vitally important to examine our Alternative schools to ensure that they are continuing to provide At Risk youths with quality education that is appropriately tailored to their unique situations and needs.

    • I Agree that at risk students need all the support we can give them.  It is unfortunate that the adults that should be helping these at risk students are turning their backs.  I realize that budget problems are a major issue at this time.  However, a positive and constructive environment needs to be created in order to resolve the issue of how best to serve our at risk youth.

  8. As one who has always wondered what the SCCOE does, I am happy to be informed that it primarily helps at-risk students. This has been a topic of interest for me since most of the kids I grew up with -including my best friend- either ended up becoming teen parents or were in gangs and even jail before graduating from high school. As has been mentioned in previous comments, the power of community and caring in the lives of these children can make a great difference in the lives of these children. The education and care they receive can determine whether they can age-out of their risky behavior or if they will continue to escalate into more deviant behavior. As a community, it is our duty to fully support and nurture these students so that they may become productive citizens rather than criminals.

  9. I have personal experiences with alternative school which cause me to be especially interested in this topic. I wrote a researcher paper in undergrad about the inefectiveness of continuation schools. In high school I was forced to attend a continuation school and it was my worse academic experience to date.

    One issue I have with alternative schools is that by all accounts, from my experience, they are in place as a punishment. With that mind set it is impossible to truly uplift youth in any area of their lives. The students well being, growth and developement are not a priority.

    I am not totally against the idea of alternative schools and believe some are necessary. I do believe the frame work for how they function does need to major adjustment. Alternative schools need to be very intentional in their efforts to better and develope at-risk youth.

  10. It is truly amazing how society accept the amount of funds that go to prisons and do not see the small amount of programs being offered to youth who are at risk. I think that is a great idea to cut the funding of prisons and provide more funds to alternative programs for youth who are at risk. These programs can be effective since one of the goals would be to transform them into productive citizens who can read, write, and communicate effectively. These citizens would then become role models to those students who then are at risk.

  11. At risk students need our help. They need more resources. It doesn’t make sense to keep taking away money from education and these important programs. Doesn’t anyone care about our kids? Our future? I really don’t understand it. At risk students and all students need quality teachers who care and who can educate them. The teachers and the schools need the resources to be able to do this. I think it is very important to focus on our At risk students because we don’t want them to fall into the cycle. We need to give more money and more focus on these programs. One thing I think a lot of people don’t realize is that so many people need these programs and they can’t get them because the wait list is so long. My friend lives in a low income area and is trying to get her son enrolled in preschool, however, she can’t afford it. She called head start and she qualifies for it however, the wait list is so long that they told her she should have called to be put on the wait list when she was pregnant. This is crazy. What about all the kids who need these programs and can’t get in. It’s not right. Education should come first and as a society that is what we need to focus on. Education and our children.

  12. At-risk students bring with them into the classroom a myriad of problems that most children don’t have to deal with. Elementary teachers need nip these issues sooner rather than later. They need to attend to these students and actually believe that they can rise above his or her situation. “Without teacher buy-in, all of the efforts devoted to change may proved unsuccessful.” We all remember teachers that brought us down, that made us feel awful about ourselves. But most of us have memories of teachers that inspired us also. At-risk youth are often cast of as lost causes. They may not have ever had an inspiring teacher. How will they trust teachers? How will they see that education is the path to success? Teachers must gain trust, put out that extra effort even if family and community support are almost nonexistent. It only takes one person, one teacher, one mentor, one friend, to make a difference in someone’s life.

  13. These young men and women need support too, we are all humans and deserve a better life. We can’t be judge by how we look, act, race gender or neighborhood were we live. Youth people can be successful even though they may have had run in with the police. Everyone deserves a second chance, what if these youth’s can become civilize adults and live a better life, be able to go to college or just graduate from high school. As teachers and living in the United States, shouldn’t these youth’s deserve a second chance to follow their dreams and become somebody. This is the US were dreams become a reality, we can’t deprive educating these youth just based on their history, anyone can be taught, as a teacher you just have to find a way to engaged them and make school enjoyable and believe in them. Sometimes they just need someone to guide them and tell them that they know they can be someone in life.

  14. I think society needs to view at risk students in a different way.  There is a perception that at risk students are “bad” and that will never succeed in life.  We need to stop judging and believe that all youths can succeed.  These students need our empathy, trust, and respect more than ever.

  15. I believe that government funds are too readily spent on issues that do not directly serve the people, but do serve political interests.  Redirecting money to help at risk youth can only be beneficial to the future of our society.
    At risk youth need indivdualized programs that help them overcome their difficulties and educate them to be productive adults.  There are 2 possibilities: these youth can be nurtured and educated to help the society or grow to be criminals or drug offenders and cost tax payers millions of dollars to keep them in jail.
    It is essential that educators focus time and energy on youth that are in need. This problem cannot be ignored; it needs to be addressed with individualized educational programs.

  16. I think that it is really sad that this is even an issue.  All students and schools should be treated equally, no matter what “type” of student or school it is.  I agree with Mr. DiSalvo in that we need to “celebrate our most vulnerable students as students of opportunity.”  As long as these “at risk” children are cared for and treated they way they deserve from teachers and administrators, they are very capable of becoming a successful adult.

  17. Every student needs to be held to high expectations, however many students who are labeled as “at risk”  are not. Students who are “at risk” must be held to the same standards as their peers in a mainstream school. Not only will the child see benefits and gains but it will trickle down to the community as well.

    • >  Not only will the child see benefits and gains but it will trickle down to the community as well.


      Political Correctness foul!!

      Fifteen yard penalty.

      Benefits and gains DO NOT “trickle down” in PC-land.  This is a NO NO.  Rather, they result in “stimulus”.

      You should have said “benefits and gains will provide STIMULUS to the community as well.”

  18. What, no piecharts? I’ve looked through the entire 107 page WestEd report and there’s not a single piechart! How do they expect you to do your job without a piechart? You give WestEd hundreds of thousands of dollars to tell you how to do your job and they don’t even give you a piechart? What is that?
    If I was you I’d ask for my money back. I mean, I’d ask for MY money back.

  19. I believe that students perform up to the standards and expectations that people and society put on them.  I think that it is important that we look at these students, not at their past, but their future hold high expectations and believe in them.  If we do this, I am sure that people will be able to see the positive outcomes.

    • This is a great comment and I agree completely. Children need the support of teachers and parents to make them feel like they are capable of achieving their goals in school. In order to keep a positive attitude about academic achievement, we all need to look at the future and not dwell on what happened in the past to make the child feel comfortable.

  20. I agree with many of the previous comments. I don’t understand how the resources that at-risk students clearly need keep being taken from them. We cannot expect the cycle to be broken for these at-risk children without having resources and programs that are tailored to their needs available to them.

  21. It seems as though society enjoys waiting until we have a problem before doing anything to solve it.  I’ve seen this to be true in many aspects of life.  We seem to just wait until children become criminals and throw them in jail, rather than take the preventive actions to stop this from happening.  If we put money into the at-risk youth instead of so much into prisons, we would solve a number of problems- not only the monetary issue regarding overspending on prisons, but we’d be saving lives.  The value of life is by far more important than any money we could save.  Also, I think the program goes far beyond needing to be “teacher-based”.  The community and these kids’ families need to set up.  How do you think these kids become “at-risk”?  The majority of their issues- if not all- come from outside of the classroom.  Our focus needs to be on saving these children – at whatever means necessary.

  22. I believe in the importance of the education programs for at-risk students and do not believe that money should be cut if possible from these programs. I believe that at-risk children need adult role models in their lives to show them that they can have a successful future no matter what happened in their past.  Many times the classroom is the only place these children may find these role models.

  23. At-risk youth deserve a good education just like any other person. If we look down on these individuals and do nothing positive to help change their lives for the better, then who are we to complain about the problem.  They need the help and support of teachers who can instill confidence in them and who believe in them. With encouragement, interventions, guidance, and high expectations at-risk youth can create a better future for themselves. Positive relationships stem from mutual respect and genuine care between teachers and the at-risk youth. The teachers in these schools need to be able to command the class and gain the respect of the students. Moreover, the teachers need to respect the students and not judge them for how they look or what their problems are. Not all students come from the same family, the same neighborhood, the same values, the same problems, and the same quality of education—say a private school, or a public school in a troubled area in comparison to a public school in a well to do area. The similarity is that all of the students, wherever they are and whatever their issues, deserve a quality education that can enable them to have the knowledge and will to make smart decisions in and out of the classroom. They are entitled to the same resources with access to teachers that can make lasting impressions in their lives.

  24. Joseph,

    I know that this is in a lot of people’s mind: What is the cost for implementing such programs?

    I strongly believe that what you are suggesting will most definitely improve the lives of those adolescents and the community. Education will allow them to climb out of the hole they are in and give them an opportunity to do something with their lives and give back to the community.

    The idea that it would also possibly save the state $45K per person that doesn’t go to jail is very pleasing, but what is the guarantee? What are the studies and statistics that show that education actually makes a difference and decreases the number of delinquents? If it does decrease people from going to jail, then why hasn’t this been implement before? Prisons are expensive and everyone agrees that too much money is being spent on prisons. So why hasn’t something like this been implemented before?

    If it is the cost, then how effective is it? Will the costs of creating and maintaining such program outweigh the benefits?

    Thank you

  25. My comments are not unlike what others have said about providing more for our at-risk youth.  I agree with Jon that while money can be extremely useful, that in itself is not the answer.  If it’s not used well, it serves little purpose.  There needs to be a specific plan designed to meet the needs of these students.  For me, it comes down to having high expectations for all students, even those who have made some mistakes.  They need us to believe in them and to care about them, and the sooner the better.  An environment of punishment, like Sean was mentioning, won’t ever be the answer.  Giving these students a chance to do well at something and to be praised for doing it well would be a step in the right direction.

  26. “No doubt my career has taught me that the students in these programs today can become strong advocates and leaders for Santa Clara County in the future if given the skill set to read, write, speak, and lead.” I totally agree with this idea, which is a strong representative for the belief, “Everyone deserves an opportunity to learn”. The society usually tends to think that those adolescents refuse to learn, but how many of us have really thought that many of them have never had a chance to learn?

  27. At risk youth deserve a quality education just like every other child.  In order for this to happen teachers and parents need resources available to them to support the child and the parents.  In many cases these students require additional assistance that a classroom teacher does not have time to provide.  Research has found that if at risk youth are given the extra support they need early they can learn and thrive like any other student.

  28. I believe helping at-risk youth is of course always going to be beneficial. I also believe without funds to adequately (dare I say) market and understand where one finds that help and just what kind can be given, is the most important part of that equation that many times, is missing. I have seen so, so many wonderful non-profit and city responses in support of at-risk youth, whether in basic health care, in after-school programs or in emotional support-based programs. However, the biggest problem I have seen is the lack of knowledge that these places even existed!

    “WestEd suggests that the SCCOEW develop a coordinated system of service delivery so that all staff, students, parents, and referring districts are aware of the supports available.”

    This is key, to me. I see this as the number one reason for the usefulness of the SCCOEW (or any county office of education). It’s intrinsic in the job of this office to do the leg work in spreading the word, and creating and maintaining those positive relationships so as to help this targeted student population thrive. I have to say, that the reality is, lives are busy, it is especially difficult for so many of us,though well-intended, to be consistent contributing community members by attendance at meetings. This is not to say that passivity should be supported, rather, that for the office to be affective in its approach, it needs to be extremely pro-active in its goals. Yes, I do understand this piece is geared toward helping our at-risk youth population (this population is the reason I am becoming a teacher in the first place), however, I have to say, bottom line: spread the word, spread the word, spread the word- creatively and as effectively as possible. thanks!

  29. s a society we must without question provide an education to all individuals. It is especially critical to provide a quality program to the students that need it most, our truant, foster, and delinquent students. While providing a quality academic is important, meeting their emotional and social needs is as important. For many of these students the route of alternative schooling is their last chance. This is the reason why it is so important. Without quality alternative schooling we are basically giving up on these students when they need us the most. What I have learned is that these students need to see that someone cares about them. If positive intervention is available to them, then it’s possible to turn some of these students around, and lead them down the road to becoming positive members of society.

  30. Every child deserves an education.  Period.  That includes our most vulnerable students.  Although they often times need the extra push and the extra support from teachers and other school staff, they still deserve a fair chance at receiving an education.  They may not have the support at home, which makes school that much more important in their lives.  I agree; however, that these students cannot receive this deserved support and encouragement if teachers don’t take it upon themselves to help.  “Without teacher buy-in, all of the efforts devoted to change may proved unsuccessful.”  Teachers need to take the responsibility for these students instead of brushing them off and excusing their failures with statements like, “he doesn’t want to learn,” “he can’t learn,” and “he’ll drop out anyways.”  Teachers need to truly believe that they can make a difference in the lives of these students and they need to want to take part in helping these students.  “Teacher buy-in” is key to the success of these vulnerable students.  They need to believe that every single one of their students (including their most vulnerable students) can succeed?  If they don’t, how can they expect students, themselves, to believe that they can succeed?

  31. It is truly unfortunately that these at-risk students are often given the short end of the stick when it comes to their education. Many times, there is little care given to their education even though it could have a great effect on their future. I agree with many of the comments above and what you discussed in your post concerning the fact that education could help these students turn away from a life of crime. It must be a high quality education however that seeks to meet the needs of these students at all levels. It must be one where the staff truly cares about these students and pushes them to succeed. Hopefully such a program will be started in our county.

  32. I also think that the public should view “at risk” students in a different way as well. I believe that these students have as much potential as anyone else. Therefore, they deserve to get a quality education. They may need additional resources and more attention from parents and teachers, but if it gets them the education they deserve, I think that it is worth the time and effort. I feel as though people judge these “at risk” students and think that they are bad kids and don’t have what it takes to succeed. I can’t imagine what this must do to their self-esteem levels. How can you have confidence in yourself if no one else believes in you? Maybe if our society tries to think of them differently and view them in a new light, these students will gain more confidence and self-esteem, which will hopefully lead them to overall success.

  33. I believe that if we hold different students to different standards then we are just making the achievement gap increase in size. Almost all students are “at risk” students in my eyes these days because they do not have the appropriate parental guidance at home or support that is needed to help them succeed in school. Times have change dramatically since I was in school, and even then I knew a good amount of students who didn’t have the family support at home but instead of failing they pushed harder because they knew there was a future for them (college). But now a days most children do not think that there is a future for them after high school so most of them stop trying.

  34. I agree with most of the comments above. I think that the Alternate Education Program should indeed be the top priority. I believe the success of the program depends on certain factors. Counseling and support services must be provided to care for the vulnerable students. Resources must be available for the students, staff and the teachers. These students deserve a positive opportunity for learning and so it is important to train teachers. In addition, I think it is important to create an environment of respect and support for students to learn. These students can be redirected in the right direction by nurturing them and believing in them.

  35. It is an unfortunate situation how these teens labeled “at risk” are not receiving the proper individualized attention that they so desperately need.  Unfortunately, more often than not, individuals of the community turn a blind eye on what is really going on with this percentage of America’s youth and instead focus their attention on others who are less “troubled”. 
    It is extremely frustrating to hear the statistics regarding these “at risk” teens because I know first hand how a little guidance can change their lives dramatically.  My friend used to be a mentor on an alternative school campus and would handle any behavior issues that got out of control.  Just the small act of believing in the kids changed how they perceived their lives and futures.  These transformations occurred right in front of his eyes and to this day he still keeps in touch with those that pulled on his heartstrings.
    This group of youth needs a program that is specific to their needs.  In order for their to be change, one needs to create it!

  36. I think that all of us agree that at risk youth needs all the help that they can get, especially when it comes to education. Unfortunately, we as a society need to wake up and put our priorities straight before these kids get the help that they deserve. We put more money in the prison system than towards our education. What does that say about our society? We value the lives of criminals more than our children. It seems more beneficial to commit a crime than to live a honest productive lives. For example, criminals receive free health care, food and shelter, while a low income family have to struggle to put food in their table and go without health care. It seems that America’s priorities are out of whack and unless we do something about this our prison system will continue to grow and deplete the resources that should be going towards our children’s education.

  37. I really like the idea of implementing programs for troubled youth. I had never looked at it the way you had put it which was that we would save our state money by keeping them out of jail later on. This really goes to show how the development of children to young adults into their adult life really is like a domino effect. One thing leads to and affects the other. If we start them in a positive direction early on, we can keep these youth of out trouble later on. Like everything else in this world, it all comes down to money. Without money, there’s no programs and this can’t become a reality.

  38. This study seems to give indicators that are quite obvious to anyone in education if one desires to allow programs to excel.  However, implementing these ideas in strategies that will work is the underlying difficulty.  These vulnerable youths should be served by programs that use teachers as a base for change but the challenge is to find teachers that will dedicate their time to these students.  I read so many here saying that, yes, we should help these students because they deserve to be helped just as much as any other student but give excuses that we aren’t given the money and projects are ill-funded.  Alright, then don’t forget them when you’re teaching.  Forget funding and do what YOU can do.  Step out of your comfort zones and participate in helping these students FOR REAL and not just in sympathy.  Truly see them as “students of opportunity” and be there for them.  There are so many excuses for us not to be there, we must simply make more time and bring more energy to serve these students on our own, if not together.