May 23, 2011
Washington D.C. – Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Secondary School Reentry Act. The bill will amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to increase the role of State and local educational agencies in implementing secondary school reentry programs that focus on reengaging young people who are disconnected from both the education system and the workforce.
“We commend Senator Sanders for demonstrating his support of youth by introducing the Secondary School Reentry Act,” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan advocacy organization. “This legislation will create an avenue to meet the diverse needs of disconnected youth with a comprehensive set of supports and interventions to reduce barriers to school re-entry, learning & skill development, and the ultimate goal of diploma completion and college-career readiness. By amending ESEA to provide a focus on this population, Senator Sanders is encouraging States and school districts to implement a plan to identify and reengage disconnected youth with the ultimate goal of seeing them attain a secondary school diploma with greater opportunities for academic and financial success.”
Disconnected youth encompass a broad population that may include high school dropouts, teenage parents, homeless and runaway youth, youth in the juvenile justice system, or youth who have aged out of the foster care system. Research indicates that African American males constitute a disproportionate share of the population and that the risk of disconnection is particularly high with students experiencing emotional disturbances and learning disabilities.
According to the legislation, research shows that nearly 38 percent of young female dropouts, ages 16-24, are mothers. More than half of all high school dropouts are students of color, and low-income students are ten times more likely to drop out than other students.
“An extremely limited amount of federal education dollars is targeted toward programs that reach out and support dropouts who want another opportunity to reengage in the education system, receive their high school diploma, and create a pathway to a better, more promising future,” said Senator Bernard Sanders. “That is why I introduced the Secondary School Reentry Act which supports an increased role by state and local educational agencies in providing secondary school reentry programs in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act.”
Lesley added, “We applaud Senator Sanders for introducing this critical piece of legislation. With researchers estimating the number of disconnected youth ranging from 2.3 million to 5.2 million, the Secondary School Reentry Act will offer educational assistance to youth transitioning into adulthood by providing college and career ready services that open a pathway to higher education. We look forward to working with Congress, national and state partners, and youth leaders to pass this important legislation.”