Houston's Harris County probation department offers teenagers with troubled pasts, arrest records, and often-acrimonious school experiences the chance to sit in classrooms voluntarily for four hours a day, says the Houston Chronicle. They come after serving sentences or being placed on probation to wrestle with math and English and science, to study for the GED, a certificate that may make the difference between going back into lock-up or going forward to a better life.
The kids who fall under the aegis of the Juvenile Probation department have committed crimes ranging from disorderly conduct to homicide. Some have robbed banks or stolen cars. Others have smoked weed or cut class too often. About two-thirds of juveniles in custody drop out of school after being released. Only 15 percent eventually earn a high school diploma or GED, according to the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings.