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No jobs equals no school taxpayers

At least one Indiana school district plans to eliminate its adult

education program to help cope with th $300 million in K-12 education cuts

ordered by Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Long-term, that's a penny-wise and pound-foolish approach. Adult education programs do

more directly to get people working, paying taxes and supporting

public schools than most people realize.

Fort Wayne Community Schools held its annual GED graduation ceremony

Wednesday night to honor the 303 adults who passed the GED exam in

2009. To a person, the five student speakers said their motivation to

earn the GED was to get a job or a better job.

David Potts dropped out of Woodlan High School in 1974. He wanted to

join the Air Force, so he took the GED and was told by a recruiter

that he had passed. He spent four years on active duty. When he was

laid off by his long-time employer in 2008, he began looking for work.

Needing proof of his GED certification, he contacted the state and was

told that he actually failed the exam 30-plus years ago.

Emily Lydy dropped out of North Side High School when she had a baby.

She worked her way up in a series of medical jobs until an employer

checked and found she was a dropout. She was fired. Lydy returned to

school, passed the GED and is now studying nursing at Ivy Tech.

Humberto Giron earned a high school diploma in Mexico City, but it

did him no good when he moved to Fort Wayne six years ago. He enrolled

at Anthis Career Center to earn a GED so he could become a police

officer.

Anthony Martin bounced around 15 schools in Michigan before he moved

to Fort Wayne at age 17 to live with his father. Because he would have

been 21 before he could earn a regular diploma, he enrolled at Anthis

to earn his GED. He plans to get a job in construction.

Jon Peete spent four years at North Side, but left without a diploma.

He held a good-paying job for years, but was laid off in 2008. He

landed another job last August, but the company pulled the offer the

day before he was to start because he didn't have a diploma. Peete

enrolled at Anthis and took the GED exam within two months. He's

looking for work now, but also considering enrolling in college.

The story is the same for most of the other graduates. Why would any

community want to make it tougher for residents to get a job and

become tax-paying citizens?

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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