Council Members Speak with Students about their preparation for GED

March 23rd, 2010 – Speaker Christine C. Quinn, as part of her effort to improve the GED system, today visited the Adult Education Center in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. She toured the Center and spoke with students who are preparing for the GED exam. Leading the tour were students who are currently enrolled in the Center and spoke about their experience, expectations and the challenges they faced as they prepared themselves to take the GED. Joining the Speaker were Lianne Freidman, Chief Operating Officer, Office of Adult and Continuing Education, Education Committee Chair, Robert Jackson and Council Members Al Vann, Sara Gonzalez, Annabel Palma, and Lewis Fidler.

Last month, in her State of the City address, Quinn proposed concrete steps aimed at improving the city’s GED testing system, which is currently fragmented and inadequate in assisting New Yorkers lacking a high school diploma. The Speaker’s reforms will address the needs of New Yorkers who face the greatest obstacles in finding a job. The three-tiered plan will help New Yorkers take the first crucial step towards employment.

• The Council, together with the Department of Education and the Department of Small Business Services, will create a citywide pilot at Workforce 1 Centers that will connect individuals without a high school diploma to GED testing and test preparation courses.
• In order to ensure that those who take the GED are adequately prepared, individuals who sign up to take the GED will first take an Official Practice Test to assess their preparedness.
• The Council will work closely with the Literacy Assistance Center, DOE and SBS to better coordinate the GED system, with a goal of streamlining access to services so that individuals can build skills, obtain a GED if needed and receive assistance in their job search.

“There are many who apply to take the GED only to then not pass the test because they do not have the adequate tools and skills in order to prepare them to take the exam and to go out and find a job,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “We want to able to have those students be ready to take the GED so they can get that degree go out into the workforce. “These centers are crucial in workforce and career development and I want to thank DOE, the Brooklyn Adult Learning Center and students for taking me on this tour. Their stories were inspiring.”

“In today’s tough economic climate, the demand for adult education classes continues to grow, especially among the more than 1.6 million New Yorkers without a high school diploma. That’s why we are thrilled that Speaker Quinn has taken on this issue as a priority,” Chief Operating Officer for Adult Education Lianne Friedman said. “We want to thank the Speaker and her colleagues in the Council for joining us today at the Brooklyn Adult Learning Center. With their support, we are confident that we will be able to help even more New Yorkers pursue their goals, whether that is advancing in the workforce, going on to college, or becoming more involved in their child’s education.”

Councilmember Robert Jackson commented, “Students returning to school to pursue a GED understand the direct connection between their education level and their economic well being. What they need is effective, focused, programming to help them acquire both general knowledge and technical skills that will help them complete their GED and enter the job market. This pilot program promises to make that sequence a reality for the students at Workforce1 Centers all over New York City.”

The Brooklyn Adult Learning Center, which is run by the New York City Department of Education (DOE) has 112 classes and serve about 2,900 students each year for students that are 21 years old and over. Immigrant students at the center represent over 85 countries worldwide. The most common are Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Guyana, St. Vincent & Grenadines, St. Lucia, Grenada, Bangladesh, Barbados, Dominican Republic and Nigeria. Citywide, these centers have nearly 900 classes and serve over 40,000 students each year. Some of the classes offered at these centers are: English as a Second Language (ESL): Beginning to Advanced levels, Basic Education (BE): Basic Literacy through preparation for the General Educational Development (GED) test, Career and Technical Education (CTE): computer literacy, health careers, technology, auto mechanics, carpentry, plumbing and electrical training. These are year-round programs.

“Large segments of our communities are disconnected from education and employment, and could benefit tremendously from receiving a GED,” said Council Member Al Vann. “However, the process by which to obtain a GED is inefficient. It is time to improve the GED system so that more residents of our city receive its benefits.”

“A GED offers a second chance,” said Council Member Annabel Palma, Chair of the City Council’s General Welfare Committee. “It is an invaluable bridge which connects people to higher education and to better career opportunities.”

“We had the opportunity today to learn from the students themselves what is working and what isn’t,” said Council Member Lewis A. Fidler. Now we have to get to work to make sure that both opportunities and access to adult learning and GED programs are fully developed and marketed. “

About the Office of Adult and Continuing Education

The New York City Office of Adult and Continuing Education (OACE) is the largest provider of adult literacy education services in the state. They are an integral part of the City of New York Department of Education’s District 79 – Alternative Schools and Programs.

They offer over 900 classes for adults age 21 and over. They operate four Adult Learning Centers located in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. Also, they offer day and evening classes Monday through Saturday at more than 300 sites in all five boroughs, including public schools, community centers and faith-based organizations. Students can take classes at any of their sites, regardless of which borough they live in. All classes are taught by certified teachers and are offered free of charge (tuition-free).

Ongoing registration for classes in Adult Basic Education, High School Equivalency (GED), English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Career and Technical Education (CTE) is held regularly at schools and offices around the city.