February 07, 2011


By Profesor Martin Danenberg "El Quijote del GED"

Can you imagine that this article began with reading a small article by Yoav Gonen?

"Government is the problem," President Ronald Reagan told us thirty years ago. Actually he was extreme. Government is part of the problem and the regents are part of the problem. We all are part of the problem, but the regents must acquire more knowledge and that comes about through communication and seeing the conditions in communities.

I am afraid that the people of New York State are about to receive a shock from the people in power in the state. I will do my best to prevent it, but the number of GED diplomas may go down because people may or will be paying for the GED test. Maybe the demand for the GED is not great near Park Avenue, but regents who live close to Park Avenue or in a similar environment have to really know what is going on in the streets. I call upon those people to contact me. There are lots of things that they may not have read in the GED reports that have been published. With close to 3 million adults who need a GED in New York, we need to monitor things so that the numbers will go up dramatically and that can be done by making people pay a fee. We just don't want the numbers to decline and then try to bring them back, which has never been easy all these years. At the outset, I would strongly suggest a major increase in the number of GED testing centers close to depressed areas of New York State. Call it a stimulus, but let the GED grow later on through people paying the fee and opening new centers as we see continued growth.

If the regents and the governor want to satisfy "El Quijote del GED," they have to keep a close eye on GED, receiving quarterly reports from the education department. Those reports should show that close to 7 or 8 million dollars is being spent annually on GED test preparation. We also have to make sure that the waiting time is reduced down to three to four weeks or less to take the test. I would imagine that the policy concerning retaking of the GED will remain in place, but other states have developed marking systems in which the test takers can retake parts of the test the next day. So the retaking regulation can be changed and reduced so people can take the GED faster and the fee has to be determined for taking individual parts of the GED. Go to my Save the GED Test Rally Youth Speaks Out (only 34 seconds to watch) in my You Tube account under mygedhotline (the account name). See what is really going on on the streets of New York City. You see there that the failure over the last 9 years has created a monstrous problem for youth, law enforcement, the courts, and the prisons (the pipeline to prison).

If I read an article right about UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the mayor was telling John Gambling's audience on the radio (I was listening in at that time) that the audience did not behave itself by booing, shouting, etc. The mayor said it was unfitting behavior. Now I sat at a table at a dropout prevention conference where people called Deputy Mayor Walcott and Chancellor Klein liars. They did not shout it out and are you telling me that in a democracy we have to be silent, especially if we are not given the chance to speak out. It seems to me that Mayor Bloomberg is playing mayor and chief justice of the Supreme Court by telling us what happened was undemocratic and it is not freedom of speech (I guess). He has gone too far. To what extent he is playing Hosni Mubarak, that is up to Michael Mulgrew to explain in great depth. Hosni Bloomberg...hmmmm...very interesting indeed!

Yoav Gonen reported in the New York Post that the Board of Regents of New York is considering making New Yorkers pay to take the GED, not since 1994 has there been a charge. I would expect the regents to permit people on public assistance to take the GED free of charge as they did before 1994. We have to look out, be careful, know what we are doing for various reasons. The state has a much larger Hispanic community whose GED interests have not been served properly by the State Education Department and their own Hispanic elected officials and leaders. The number of test takers and test passers has shrunk for the 9 years. In other words, there has been a huge recession or depression GED-wise. This has been created by everyone in power making the wrong decisions, including the Board of Regents. Knowledge is power and the Regents have lacked it all this time. It is time for the regents to do the right thing. Take as an example my call to one of the regents last year who told me the system has to be fixed. Let us see what is on their table now in order to tell what kind of fix is in the making. I call upon the governor to ask the regents to show us what they have cooked up until today.

What assurance do we have if the system falters for a year or more? We now are told that 600 schools in New York City are failing according to federal standards and that number is a doubling of the previous number. The "miracle" of New York is just a fake miracle, a miracle that made Mayor Bloomberg a god of education, even in the White House where people believed in it. The UFT president compared Mayor Bloomberg to President Mubarak of Egypt, citing democratic failures by Mayor Bloomberg. Mubarak, Bloomberg, Obama, Palin, Huckabee, Romney, and Gingrich should take note of world conditions because it could happen here as well and not just in Egypt. Remember Kent State, Watts, and New York City! The Mafia was called into New York to quell the rioting (short of asking Lindsay to step down as mayor) under Mayor John Lindsay. I guess the mayor is in decline, too. See the statistics. The school test scores achieved were thrown out by the commissioner. This will impact on future federal funding. Chancellor Klein got out after the disaster regarding the test scores. Eric Nadelstern retired last week. Is the Department of Education of New York City under control with Cathie Black at the helm? All of this is beginning to read like a soap opera instead of the country's largest school system effectively educating its students. Tune in next week "As the Tweed Turns." I just attended another meeting of District 27 Queens. At this point I would recommend borough-wide meetings of all school districts openly air their complaints against the people running the Department of Education from the main office to the district superintendent to those people responsible in the schools. The soap opera has to end or we need much more positive things going on than the DOE is providing.

Back now to the GED problem! If those numbers do drop and they may drop, we will become a much less educated society and the children will suffer as well. We have to be sure that the State Education Department will respond by opening GED Testing Centers where people can take the GED in all three languages, testing centers in areas where there are high concentrations of people who do not have a diploma. The website of the Department of Education is showing signs of the future mess that will be created. Many communities may applaud this because they see the problem in their community (for example) as a Latino problem. This surfaced in meetings in Brentwood when the F.B.I. was called in to stem the violence in the community. This happened recently in Central Islip when I spoke with an elected official who told me that Central Islip's schools are good, the failure of the district, he said, was a Latino problem. Thank goodness my associate and friend Queen Makkada is pushing Far Rockaway toward opening P.S. 42 Q as a GED Testing Center. Far Rockaway has been depressed economically for decades. The district actually has parent involvement in the schools now, but it lags behind because of low performing schools and parents and youth who have never finished high school. This is true of many other communities across the state and the situation will not get fixed until Democrats, Republicans, and conservatives do what is right for the state. The name Dean Skelos comes to mind. I call upon Dean Skelos to look at things differently and not just focus on lowering taxes across the state/ This is what leadership is really about.

The future may include making people pay for the GED test, providing vouchers for people on social assistance and maybe even vouchers for people who are victims of crime, domestic violence and mental patients, expanding the number of GED testing centers, walk in testing that administered efficiently so people can fill seats left vacant, flexibility in the rules so that testing centers can be opened at any time during the year and not just once a year (with the internet news travels fast and the good news today would be a testing center in Far Rockaway and communities like it), blocks of seats awarded not only to the students in class, but also to other groups including gang members we want to take off the streets (youth interviewed by police officers as part of an investigation) and the victims mentioned above. We could involve hospitals in this process, a prescription for taking the GED.

The regents, the governor, the elected officials, and others have to be transformed. We have to end the last era where few of them knew anything about GED and true parent involvement. Bloomberg and Mubarak are in the news and rightfully so! The bottom line is they have failed. Doing things right this time can make New York one of the best GED states in the nation. We can develop a system that can double the number of GED diplomas each year among the almost 3 million adults who need a GED and do it in a way that reduces social service costs to people, people who can find much more productive things to do in life.



Profesor Martin Danenberg February 7, 2011 01:59 PM