Bronx GED Students Say Education Department Is Giving Them The Run-Around
Some Bronx students say a center meant to give them a second chance at getting their education is turning into a dead end for them. NY1 Education reporter Michael Meenan filed the following story.
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"It's like a mess. You don't really understand what's going on,” said 18-year-old Bronx student Jose Reyes who wants to get his high school equivalency.
He was just one of hundreds of young adults who signed up at an alternative school to study for a general equivalency diploma.
The GED is a degree for young adults 17 and older who leave high school before earning a full state diploma. It’s required for many jobs or to go into a two-year community college. But the students gathered at the alternative school Tuesday say their degree is nowhere in sight because they’re getting the run-around.
"A lot of students here were on the GED level, which is the last level. After that you take the test and then if you pass it you get your diploma, but they decided to put everyone at the start again and this is taking people back,” said student Jesi Then.
We spoke with students who admit that they messed up in high school because of personal or disciplinary problems. But they say they're ready to work now and move on with their lives. They say now their program is not living up to its end of the bargain.
"They just like pretty much throw a book in your face and say do the work, do what you know. They don't actually help us with anything,” said student Jonathan Guzman.
The department of education said a big reorganization of the GED program this summer has centralized services citywide. Now there are six hubs where students sign up, are tested to see what level they are at, and then placed at a site, within days.
Staff members say there are many students who want to take advantage of the program here, but that the reorganization has caused a cutback in resources.
"There's a shortage of staff at this particular site,” said student Ostocheo Torres.
Other teachers spoke off camera, saying they feared losing their jobs and they backed up the students' complaints.
One teacher called NY1 and said students wait weeks, not days, before getting a GED placement, making classrooms way overcrowded.
The DOE said four guidance counselors will soon be on board at the alternative school in the Bronx and say they will hire more staff if needed.
NY1 will be following up to see if that's what happens.
— Michael Meenan