School systems are getting out of the adult education business
In Tennessee. In our area, GED preparation is moving from the high school to the community college. From The Memphis Commercial Appeal.
HopeWorks expanding adult education footprint
Citing low enrollment and graduation rates at Messick Adult Center, the state revoked about $800,000 of funding from SCS [Shelby County Schools], which was operating the high school equivalency program on 75 percent of a Department of Labor and Workforce Development grant. HopeWorks had the other 25 percent, and the remainder of SCS's portion was redirected to the faith-based nonprofit in February for the rest of the fiscal year.
HopeWorks has now been awarded the full one-year, $1.7 million contract for adult education in four West Tennessee counties — Shelby, Tipton, Lauderdale and Fayette — starting in July.
Since March, the students displaced from Messick have roughly doubled HopeWorks' previous enrollment. The organization has also increased its number of teachers from 12 to 23 and locations from six to 12, mostly in church classrooms.
HopeWorks was formed 28 years ago with the goal of removing a lack of education and criminal records as barriers to employment. The organization's primary focus has been a free but intense 13-week program where adults earn high school equivalency degrees, as well as participate in job training, internships and mentoring. Students in that program are drug tested and expected to maintain a high level of attendance. Up to 40 percent of students don't make it through the 13 weeks, Wade said, but the ones who do — including some who are incarcerated — have interviews lined up by graduation.
With the state funding, HopeWorks is ramping up its high school equivalency-only program. Students can attend class as much or as little as they want, at any location and any time, and are not drug tested.
Despite an expectation that SCS would reach about 7,000 students with its high school equivalency program, only 882 students were taking classes at Messick in January, the state said in March. In a six-month time frame last year, only 24 students graduated with their high school equivalency degree.
In the last two months at HopeWorks, 64 students have earned their high school equivalency diplomas. But it's still a drop in the bucket compared to the need. According to the state, more than 85,000 people could be served across the four West Tennessee counties.