Imagine a school system where some of our country’s most underserved students have limited access to grade-level math and science courses, pass rates for those classes are significantly lower than those of their peers in nearby schools, and accurate enrollment information is only available for a fraction of eligible youths. And in that system, 44 percent of youths are black.
This describes the education system experienced by students attending school while incarcerated in juvenile facilities across the country. Data collected by the federal office for civil rights and analyzed by Bellwether Education Partners reveal huge gaps in the information available about education for youths involved with the juvenile-justice system. The available information confirms what many have long believed: These schools are not meeting students’ needs or preparing them for lifelong success. A recent analysis by Connecticut’s Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee found that the state’s education of youths in the juvenile-justice system was “fragmented and expensive.” Lacking quality standards, monitoring, accountability, specialization, and expertise, their system “let youth slip during transitions,” the JJPOC concluded. The national data show that Connecticut is not alone.