Topics for these policy seminars have included environmental and natural resources policy, health-service delivery policy, social welfare policy, transportation policy, science and technology policy, international affairs, national security, urban and regional growth policy, and political campaigns.
A variety of educational, juvenile justice, and criminal justice policies influence the number of children and youth who end up in secure correctional settings. This course analyzes policies and practices in elementary, middle, and high school that impact the success of youth – especially children of color and children with behavioral health challenges – in educational and disciplinary placements. It will also examine those aspects of the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems that intersect with the educational system and create a so-called pipeline for these youth to enter the criminal justice system. It will examine the disproportionate impact of these policies on children of color and those with special education needs and explore means to promote better outcomes for these youth. To enhance students’ understanding of these issues, the seminar includes site visits to a variety of settings including juvenile court and a juvenile correctional facility.
The course will cover such topics as: behavioral health issues in children and youth; prevention and early intervention; special education; school discipline; use of seclusion and restraint in schools; dropouts and alternative educational placements; ticketing of juveniles; juvenile court involvement; and the local and state juvenile correctional systems.
These topics increasingly are central to policy discussions both nationally and in Texas, where it is the focus of current legislative study and debate. We will take advantage of any relevant legislative hearings to advance our understanding of the ties between school policies and the juvenile justice system in the state.
The class is being team-taught by Professor Lynda Frost, an expert in mental health and education policy, and Professor Michele Deitch, an expert on juvenile justice and criminal justice policy. We will also bring in as guest speakers several stakeholders who are helping shape policy and practice on these issues in Texas. The course will be highly interdisciplinary, and students will come from at least three departments, including the Department of Educational Administration, the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and the Law School.
The course will emphasize important skills for those who wish to influence policy development on these issues, including policy memo-writing, the drafting of issue briefs, and the development of talking points.
This class will be conducted as a seminar and it is dependent upon an informed and lively discussion. Students are required to attend all classes, do all the reading, and participate in class discussions. Class attendance and participation will be considered in grading. Writing assignments will include a policy memo, short reflection papers, and a set of inter-related assignments on a research topic of your choosing including an issue brief, a bibliography, and a set of talking points. In an effort to serve the community and to offer students projects that are both practical and useful, the instructors will work with community-based organizations and government agencies to identify projects that will be of use to them in their efforts, and we will seek to shape some of the specific writing assignments around the needs of these stakeholders.