DOE closes down several GED sites

Young adults and teens seeking a general equivalency diploma (GED) in Queens Village will no longer be able to get it from Queens Reformed Church.
The Department of Education (DOE) decided recently that as of July 1, the church would be one of the several citywide GED hosts that will be closed down due to poor enrollment and retention, among other factors.
The church, located at 94-79 Springfield Boulevard, had provided space for the Vocational Training Center, a program under the umbrella of the District 79 system, which works to provide at-risk youth with an education. Come September, students will have to be redirected to another location, and Reverend Anna Jackson, who oversees the church, is not pleased.
“Students don’t know what they’re doing next school year,” said Jackson. “Our student population is low-performing and easily discouraged. Creating hoops is a way of weeding them out of the system.”
DOE, however, maintains that they will work closely with students whose primary learning locations have been shut down to find alternative GED programs.
“Counselors meet with the kids, as well as teachers who know them well, and we work to redirect them to places that best fit their needs and personality,” said Robert Zweig, Deputy Superintendent of GED Programs at DOE.
According to Zweig, the closing of certain GED sites is part of a mass restructuring of the D79 program. Other changes include the phasing out of certain programs whose attendance and Regents scores are very poor, as well as the addition of new Referral Service Centers, one-stop locations in each city borough which work individually with students to find the best GED programs for them.
The decision to close Queens Reformed Church as a GED site was a result of poor attendance and student retention, said Zweig, but it was also due to the Church’s inability to network.
“The church can’t provide counseling or anything,” said Zweig. “It’s unable to provide an integration of services. We don’t want stand-alone GED programs, we want our programs to be able [to communicate], to be part of a large network. I met with [Rev. Jackson], and she is not prepared to offer anything like that.”
DOE, however, is willing to work with the church, in hopes that it can still play a role in the education of at-risk youth across the borough.
“We talked about how we can network with other agencies in the city,” said Zweig. “No commitments were made, but we discussed the possibility of keeping the vocational piece. I got the sense that we at least walked away on the same page.”
But for Jackson, what remains is uncertainty.
“We’ve had a few students who found out what was happening and haven’t come back,” she said. “It’s so up in the air. It’s one of those things where we just have to say, ‘we’ll see.’ Come September, we’ll see.”
According to a letter issued by DOE, students who wish to find a GED program near them can call 718-557-2675 or email youthhelp@schools.nyc.gov.

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