While President Obama has been in the forefront of providing leadership on improving education and reducing dropout in American schools, the 1.2 million yearly dropouts from American high schools need Presidential BOOST in promoting GED programs and status, GED being one of the layers of the pill needed to solve the American educational malady.
President Obama, in a public announcement running these days (I heard it in a food supermarket in the South Bronx where the majority is Spanish-speaking and the radio station playing through the supermarket's speakers is in Spanish), speak of nearly 30 percent of America's youth NOT graduating from High Schools, and even a higher percentage in some schools. Thus, the president says, the society and the community need to be involved in showing support and in encouraging our youth to remain in school until they can graduate.
Very much needed, what the president is saying. Indeed, the nation needs to rally behind the president in order to work together and rescue our high school students.
His leadership in education has been evident and unquestionable. He has provided comprehensive and multi-faceted remedies intended to boost and to better, in a major and fast-paced way, the overall educational system of America, including secondary education. From "Broad Policy" items such as "Race to the Top", to "Funding" where he has backed policy with over twelve types of funds necessary in order to carry out these policies, and through "Targeted Actions" where he has directly helped solve specific problems such as helping rebuild schools in New Orleans and the establishing of school programs to highlight space and science achievements.
All of the above that have been and are being done under presidential leadership deal with the present and the future in terms of those youth who are in school and those who will be attending in the future. We want to deal here, though, with the recent past, with the 30% or more of the youth who have NOT been finishing High School in the years gone by.
The remedy for the 30% or more who have not graduated from High School or the 1.2 million who drop out of high school every year is either GED or Job Training.
As I have argued before (1) , GED graduates are better prepared for college education, for life , and for the world of work than most high school graduates. Therefore, beginning with our government, there is a need to boost the status of and to extensively fund GED programs. In a realistic sense, it is good for America that the 1.2 million of her youth who drop out of high schools every year to be rescued from street life, from burdening the rest of the society, and from pulling down the rest of the educational achievement that can be gauged as a percentage of the whole society.
Just think about it. Wouldn't the country as whole be negatively and detrimentally affected by what happens to the million-plus of our youth who do not finish high school yearly and find themselves on the streets, while we campaign for those in school to stay in school and graduate and while we continue to fund many of these high schools that simply invent gimmicks to "graduate" the high-schoolers without properly educating them?
GED, by giving its graduates a chance to go to college and to gain meaningful employment, not only rescues these youths from becoming a liability to the nation and pulling the country down from any progress that the country could be making, but GED also makes the entire country better. Better in elevating our youths to become decent members of the society, taxpayers, and citizens who are going to mold themselves into positive examples for their own children and for other youths who might be tempted to neglect their own education.
Just imagine what would have happened to the following people who have made an impact on the American society, one way or another, if they had not gotten their GED diploma (naming just a few): politicians such as Jim Florio, Jon Huntsman, Jr., Ruth Ann Minner, all three became governors, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who became a US senator; journalist such as Peter Jennings, former ABC News anchor; writers and publishers such as Augusten Burroughs, Fran Lebowitz, and Walter Anderson, the editor of Parade; business people such as Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's Restaurant, Jim Anderson Flowers, founder of Amaletzer and Co, and Wally Amos, founder of Famous Amos; computer and technology personalities such as Christopher Blizzard, the open source developer; entertainers such as Aaron Carter, Pink, Steve Dahl, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, and Ana Voog; actors-comedians such as Christina Applegate, actor Brandon Lee, Kelly McGillis, Michelle Rodriguez, Jamie Lynn Spears, Michael J. Fox, D.L. Hughley, Josh Peck, Chris Rock, Richard Schiff, Christian Slater, Joshua Leonard, and Bill Cosby who continued his studies all the way to earning a doctoral degree...
Hundreds if not thousands of famous and not-so-famous people who received their GED diploma and made an impact on America can be named. The few named above are meant to demonstrate the importance of GED and the need for America to begin a concerted effort to promote, to uplift, and to fund GED programs, not as an aside, neglected, or else looked-down-on program, but as a main stream, part and parcel of the national policy intended to improve the overall educational achievement of the American youth.
Thus, President Obama needs to integrate GED in his folder of remedies for American education, promote it, elevate it, and fund it.
About Author / Additional Info:
(1): See my article "On GED and Life: NY City Mayor Bloomberg Palliating Discrimination"