In this issue:
- Tragedy increases urgency of anti-gang work
- A snapshot from the Indicators Report: Idle youth
- IB charter school reaches milestone
Tragedy increases urgency of anti-gang work
The shooting death of 9-year-old Ciara Savage on Mother's Day showed in the starkest possible terms the need for a comprehensive approach to the problems that lead to gang violence. The county's anti-gang initiative, led by Beth Gill-MacDonald, will surely have more people willing to join its work. Safer York, the city's Weed and Seed anti-crime project, will find it easier to argue for continued support. Downtown Inc.'s effort to bring a more sophisticated approach to public safety should gain traction. The Stay in School project recommendations, due this fall from the United Way of York County and YorkCounts, hopefully will attract a little more attention. All of this will require the three Cs that David White talked about at the recent gang-prevention summit: cooperation, coordination and communication. Maybe Bev Mackereth, the county's new director of Human Services, and the next mayor of York - whoever that is - can begin a new period of ambitious, big-picture thinking to help these groups work together to develop a county plan to provide better education, more job opportunities and safer streets for the youth of York County.
A snapshot from the Indicators Report: Idle youth
The Indicators Committee added this measure to the 2009 report to show the number of youth who aren't working. These so-called "idle youth" are kids who dropped out of school or who graduated but haven't found a job or gone to college or a trade school. In the York-Hanover Metropolitan Statistical Area, 8.7 percent of youth ages 16 to 19 were considered idle by the U.S. Census Bureau. The percentage rose to 13.3 percent for ages 19 to 21. It's hard to draw many conclusions, since there's no previous data to use for comparison. But when hundreds of young people are out of school or not working, they are the most likely to turn to gangs, crime and drugs. Finding these kids, training them and helping them find decent-paying jobs is one of the education recommendations from YorkCounts' Metro-York group.
IB charter school reaches milestone
The effort to increase educational opportunities for York residents reached a significant milestone in April. A public K-12 charter school, one designed around what's known as an International Baccaleurate curriculum, identified two likely funding sources that will allow the YorkCounts Educational Opportunities committee to hire a consultant and begin considering potential sites in the city. If the effort succeeds, city residents will have a new option (see update) for a public education, in addition to the York City School District, and the first in central Pennsylvania with an IB program. It is hoped that an IB charter school will also make it more attractive for middle-class families to live in York, and their children would, in theory, help break up the concentrated poverty that interferes with student performance in the existing city schools.
Update, 5/21: To clarify, this IB school would be the fourth charter school in the city. Crispus Attucks YouthBuild, Lincoln Edison and New Hope Academy also operate as charter schools, according to the Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter Schools.
- Dan Fink