ON GED and LIFE (Education and Training): Palliating Discrimination and Neglect, New York City Mayor Bloomberg Puts Up

[Abstract: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is right in funding with his own money ($ 30 million) for alternative education such as GED and training for the downtrodden youth of New York City.]

Having taught in New York City public school system for more than a decade both junior high and high schools (sciences, math) and having coordinated and taught GED (All the subjects), I know that Mayor Bloomberg's investing millions of his own money to help the minority youth is the right thing to do. In fact, it is the best thing to do for the sake of both the youth he intends to help and the society at large.

First, it is important to inform those who look down on or dismiss GED that, as an expert on the subject, my recommendation would be that GED should be elevated in status and funded extensively. Why? Because GED graduates are, overall, better prepared for college, for work, and for life than most public high school graduates, especially in low-to-average performing public high schools, at least in New York City.

Let me explain based on my own observation and experience: Most public high school graduates "are graduated" by the school. Meaning that the school decides that every student is going to receive a high school diploma; not because these students passed all their subjects, but because it is the end of the school year and they are in the twelfth grade: change a score here, assign the student a "project" there so that you can give the student a passing score in order to "allow" the student to graduate with everyone else.

However, with GED, the teacher cannot "pass" the students or give them a diploma. He/she teaches and trains them and sends them somewhere else where no one knows them personally and where the state administers the test. If they pass, they get their diploma in the mail. Translation: the student who gets the GED diploma must know and pass Math , Science, Social Studies, Writing Skills, and Literature and Arts or Reading, and he or she must be able to write a good essay.
I can recount many stories of the young people I taught and trained: from the brightest 16 year-old big and bully who got suspended from 10th grade for beating up her teacher in regular high school and no other school or program would take her. I gave her a chance because of her desperate mother and after TABE-testing her and seeing how bright she was. Within 6 months, she got her GED diploma, went to college and, then, joined the Army. Or another youth who dropped out of 11th grade because he couldn't do basic Math. After a year, he could do Algebra. He passed his GED and went to college... These two success stories and many others took place in a single room classroom in the Highbridge Projects near Yankee Stadium where I taught and coordinated the program with an assistant teacher and a do-it-all representative from the community who also lived in the same projects. Together, we achieved a 98% GED passing success rate.

These youth came from all walks of life: streets (including gangs), jails, drop outs, suspended from regular schools, or young people who could not perform anymore in schools so they just quit.
The reality is that these young people become either a menace to society, a menace to themselves, or both. The society ends up spending enormous sums of money to either try to punish them (prisons, jails, courts), try to rehabilitate them, or try to keep them away from committing misdeeds by investing in more and more security gadgets, measures, and infrastructure.

Helping these young people to receive a GED diploma and go to college or to be trained for a gainful employment, therefore, becomes a plus for everyone: for both the young people themselves and for the other members of the society.

So, Mayor Bloomberg is right. Many of these situations are due to what the Mayor rightly called "racial disparity", meaning - or to be blunt - racial discrimination and willful society neglect. By the way, most of these young people live everyday with the policies of the society that result from the neglect of their neighborhoods, their schools, and their living conditions that emanate from this "racial disparity". This ex-public school teacher knows it so well not only because he taught and trained these youths and has lived in these same neighborhoods for years, but because he also became a victim of the same discrimination, of the same "racial disparity" because of his race and national origin. Discrimination that took away his 12 years of a successful teaching career, throwing him out of the system in the most unheard-of manner a couple of weeks before he was to achieve tenure. But that is another story.

We must give kudos to Mayor Bloomberg. We must commend him for caring and for putting his money where his heart is: giving the downtrodden youth, those victimized by "racial disparity", a chance to succeed both in education and in life.

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