Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Galveston ISD wonders why West Texas school district will provide correctional educational services for island boot camp

Galveston ISD never cared much about correctional educational services until the tiny Iraan-Sheffield ISD from West Texas bid to provide them at the Seaborne ChalleNGe Corps, "a military-style program for troubled teens" operated by the Texas National Guard on the island. But locals wonder "why the Galveston public school district was not offered opportunity to teach students in its own jurisdiction." According to the Galveston Daily News ("Seaborne, West Texas district deal strike nerve," July 15):
Michael Blalock, deputy executive director of the adjutant general’s office, which oversees all the state military forces including the corps, said the West Texas school district was chosen because it has experience teaching troubled teens in a Texas Youth Commission facility in Sheffield. He said the state did not give other school districts the opportunity to bid on the job. ...

Blalock was exploring the idea of opening a second Seaborne ChalleNGe Corps in the empty Sheffield building and asked the West Texas school district officials to provide the same kind of instruction they gave to Texas Youth Commission teens.

Iraan-Sheffield officials said they were interested in providing instruction in Sheffield and in Galveston. District officials and the adjutant general’s staff inked an agreement in June allowing Iraan-Sheffield public school teachers to teach students English, social studies, science and math. It’s the first time corps cadets will have a chance to earn a diploma.

Mytelka said some of his constituents have questioned why the West Texas district was offered a chance to earn state funding by teaching island cadets when the island public school district is facing a budget crunch.

Predicting a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall, Galveston public school district officials are considering laying off more than 20 employees.

Arnold Proctor, assistant superintendent of business and operations, has said the district might not have benefitted from an agreement to teach the cadets. He said the cost to educate at-risk teens could outweigh the benefit of increased state funding.
This is bascially fallout from the recent closure of the Sheffield unit in West Texas, showing how economically reliant some rural communities have come on TYC facilities (and for that matter, adult prisons).

I still want to learn more about the scenario. For starters, why does the National Guard operate youth camps for delinquents, anyway? According to their website, this is a nationwide program for the Guard begun in the early '90s, but not all states participate. And should the Guard really be expanding boot camps right now? The National Institute of Justice categorizes military style juvie corrections as a strategy that "doesn't work," and nationally the concept has been under fire after a series of abuse allegations and untimely deaths at wilderness and boot camps.

The treatment portion of the ChalleNge program was designed in the '90s by that stalwart leader in juvenile corrections, the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

I don't have any particular stake in who provides education services for the
ChalleNge program, but it's a bit unseemly to see school districts fighting over table scraps like this. Juvie corrections are usually seen as a necessary if unwelcome obligation by local school districts, but the economics of "Robin Hood" now send districts scurrying for any scheme to add students to the rolls. If the Legislature ever fixed the school finance fiasco, I have to wonder if Iraan-Sheffield ISD wouldn't be looking to drop this contract like a hot potato?


Anonymous said...

On Monday 07-21-08 Iraan ISD signed the contract and will take over the rducational program at West texas State school as well. The teachers were told there would be lay off's. They are waiting to find out who gets the ax. BTW they go from state employees to Iraan employee's and loose their sick leave. They will be paid for any vacation pay and loose the ERS retirement program, ability to contribute to social security, etc.

Anonymous said...

oop's next time I'll use the preview function and spell check. The date was 07-14-08.

Anonymous said...

I have volunteered as a mentor at the Galveston Seaborne Challenge. It is NOT like the 'boot camps' you read about. This program is voluntary for kids with no direction and an unstructured life. The cadet I worked with really benefitted from this program.
The 6 month class started out with 150 students, but by graduation time there were slightly less than 100 who completed the course. The others either 'quit' or were kicked out for various behavior problems. I thought it was a good program.

Anonymous said...

Texas could bring in the "best" juvenile program in the world, hire the most knowledgeable, charismatic leader and people would still "hate". What people fail to understand is that there is no one single program that works for every juvenile delinquent. Boot Camp programs with a good follow up program are succesful - plus folks need to take into consideration the type of youth these programs are meant for - the smarter, younger, first time offender. The kid that still has a little hope left - boot camp's are built to help them seek better ways to fulfill unmet needs and meet values in a pro-social way. They are not meant for the Type A offender, MR youth, or CD type. If people spent actual time on the front lines with these kids that are in these programs, they would understand that - and I do not mean understand in black and white - there is a difference. ISISD is one of the best in the state - check the stats - it is only a good thing that they are going to WTSS and Galveston - it is not their fault that Galveston ISD did not have the forethought and creativity to expand their educational programs (and revenue). I know first hand how effective the staff at ISISD are. TYC teachers earned a bad name by not producing - bottom line - crosswords and Sadoku do not help these youth reach real educational goals.

Anonymous said...

Follow the money. Someone's getting greased!

Anonymous said...

Not all TYC teachers taught/teach with the crossword puzzles, just like not all TYC personal abused kids.
Its kind of like this old saying with the kids in TYC, " You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."
Remember they were not making straight A's in Public school, nor were they attending. In TYC they are forced to attend, but you can't force them to learn.
To close: Never judge a person until you have walked in their shoes.

Anonymous said...

3:13 again:
Before you could enter Seaborne, the cadet HAD to have a mentor. The mentor worked with the youth during the 6 month program and the for 12 months afterward. Thats what made it a good program. Wish TYC did the same.

Anonymous said...

I would have to say that I do not agree with this. If TYC does not, could not and can't get structure under control...I definitely wouldn't be using them or any of their facilities as a foundation. They are still a hot mess. Sheffield was closed down for reasons....the facility taking over that would have and should have looked at those reasons. And I agree, not all TYC teachers abuse, but they certainly could speak up. I agree, not one model works and you can't make a horse drink...but you can endlessly and tirelessly walk him to the river, bend down and show him your drinking and eventually he will follow. Its about trust and respect and example and you can't honestly expect someone who has valid reasons to not trust to be thrown into a military, screaming match and say "trust me and respect me because i said so." It will only led to false identification and rebellion. Whether it is reflected now or later.....until the weed is cut down the plant won't grow.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen the Ombudsman's report on education? Does it talk about this?

Anonymous said...

Please enlighten US 07:37 am - what reasons - read the stats about SBC. Also, the post was a reply to a post that stated that all Boot Camp programs do not work - this is simply not true. How long have you been invovled with Juvie corerections and TYC? Veteran staff would know SBC had the least amount of "drama" (investigations, abuse, major incidents) in comparison to the other facilities - remote location - not a good enough reason in my book.SBC staff were the most dedicated and loyal staff I had seen in a long time.

Anonymous said...

Most boot camps in Texas should be considered "shoe" camps. They are therapeutically oriented, with residential care staff and local ISD's serving the child's educational needs. Many have a high number of volunteers and outside professional contractors that provide an independent set of eyes and ears for the children's protection. Personally, TYC and TJPC should just do away with the name "boot camp" and just call them an Academy. Maybe then the negative surrounding them will go away.

Anonymous said...

No need to get defensive 7/17/2008 07:39:00 PM. I am sure you are defending but its misguided. Look at the state of things, look at the kids that have been killed in boot camps, remote locations etc. The education of kids in the those types of settings is deplorable. And for the record, I've been around awhile. As I won't answer to your defensiveness I will say look around and pay attention to all the current issues. Then it would be almost moot to tell you to pay attention to the past - that mirrors the present and the only thing left is the future and gosh darn if it doesn't mimick the past and the present.

Anonymous said...

looooooook at the paaaaaast - then the presssssssssssent and all thst is left is the fuuuuuuuuuture- PLEASE - I suppose a big hug circle and lavish privileges would be the answer - forget teamwork, discipline, self - respect, productivity, values, responsibility, education and achievement of goals and ultimately autonomy - you know things that people need in the real world - put down your pipe before you respond to a post!

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of thoughts about SBC and WTSS. I am a relative newbie, but I did hear Curtis Simmons talk about being able to "choose" the students that went to SBC. I got the definite impression that SBC did not get the bottom of the barrel types that typically come to WTSS. Will Iraan-Sheffield be able to duplicate results with a significantly different population? I have no crystal ball, but the prospects seem dubious at best. At WTSS we have had to deal with education by dorm, which is highly ineffective due to the wide range of abilities and needs within each dorm. Some teachers here are master slackers, but most struggle to do the best possible under difficult circumstances. The real fault lies much higher up. At any rate, I am taking this opportunity to move on. The youth here are once again being ill-served by those who should be looking out for their best interests. It's a terribly sad situation.

T. Diane Smith said...

There is a great deal of difference between the correctional boot camps, wilderness camps, and the programs attached to the National Guard Youth Corps Challenge programs.

Unlike the other programs you mentioned, Alaska Military Youth Academy and the Galveston Seaborne program tend to graduate about 66% of the volunteers who begin their 22 week program. Two years later, between 86 and 92% of the graduates are doing well in jobs, college, the military, and other training programs with no criminal recidivism. We even have a graduate of the Naval Academy now.

I can speak with some authority on this because I worked with the Alaska program for 7 years before I moved to Texas, and I visited the Galveston program when I got here to compare the two. Part of my job was keeping track of who failed to make it through the residential phase of the program and why.

I think the Sheffield and Iraan people did what the Galveston people failed to do. That is they took an interest in the program instead of just writing them off as another correctional program. You really ought to visit a Youth Corps program before you start lumping them together with all those other groups.

In addition, the medical and safety supervision of the students and the training of the staff in these areas are much more stringent than any other adolescent program I have seen. I include a program for severely traumatized state custody kids here in Texas that I worked with for over a year before becoming fed up with obvious ethically questionable practices.

In view of the Hurricane Ike aftermath, it is a good thing that the Seaborne Program in Galveston already had something going with Iraan and Sheffield ISD.

T. Diane Smith
former AMYA staff

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