The GED is gone from New York and my nickname is “El Quijote del GED” which also has another meaning that I created in Spanish for people around the world. The Generation of Sports and Education in Spanish is la Generación de Educación y Deportes (Deportes is Sports in Spanish).
I have been with legends of African American communities over the years and talked about all the great basketball players, for example, that never made it to college because they dropped out of high school. Every community faced that, but I did not know that much about the South Bronx back in my time since I came from the Lower East Side. But get this. I went to the City Championship game in the old Madison Square Garden that featured Boys High School with Connie Hawkins against Wingate High School and Roger Brown. Connie and I met outside the old Boys High School during the filming of his documentary and he invited me to sit and talk in the rented car paid for on a windy day. The “Hawk” was great to talk to. Various legends of the Harlem Globetrotters and I have been together in person. I was on a telephone conference call arranged by James “Bonecrusher” Smith with James “Buster” Douglas who knocked out Mike Tyson. I talked to John Carlos in Atlanta, the Olympian and icon known for the Black power salute in Mexico City in 1968. Ed Figueroa, the Yankees’ pitcher, and Hector “Macho” Camacho three times as I met him in different places. And then there were Earl “the Pearl” and “Tiny” too.
Even before that day, I kept a student in the Jamaica Houses from a definite suspension by contacting his mother the day before by preparing her to ask about the letter that I had written about the incident that involved her son (including some evidence the other student was “setting him up.” I arranged for one of my students in the Astoria Houses to take the test in two weeks after he had been in class for two days.
From a political-socio-economic point of view things have improved, but things continue to be bad. A diploma in every one’s hands would be extremely beneficial.
Let’s move on to the GED help. The South Bronx is the place to give help and ask for nothing back. Eric Stevenson made that commitment years ago to help people and now is the time for all community people (and I know that people are divided everywhere) to get involved. A simple thing like go to Eric Stevenson will be dynamic. Everyone without a diploma will get the help, program, and advice to learn more in less time, get a diploma quicker, and hopefully find a better job where not having the diploma hurts progress for that person and that person’s family. Then we can move on to other educational triumphs such as passing the college placement test which I just wrote about.
When can we start? Right now, meaning in the next several weeks as things get set up. But one of the best ways to start is this. Each person can go to the bookstore and find the T.A.S.C. book to look at the practice tests in the beginning of the book. The method of study is there in the books. The best method is the test candidate reads what he needs. He or she does not read the whole book. Going to take the real test does not mean that the person has to know everything and has to study longer. People are waving their diplomas who learned enough and those people can read the rest of the material that they need after passing the test to be stronger. Nobody should be held back from taking that test, but the decision is ultimately the decision of each person and his or her parents to decide when to take the test.
On Long Island I knew about high school principals who violated young people who were eligible under law and principals violated them. They made the decision so that the there would be no statistic revealed for students in that category. People who do not return to high school under that pressure often fall through the cracks and the principal gets away with it. Nobody will be violated. And If you know anyone who earned a Certificate of Completion instead of a high school diploma, be on the alert to help and bring that person to the Eric Stevenson campaign to help people. That certificate, though it convinced students and parents, is worthless.
All subjects will be covered, individualization will be stressed, there will be incredible enrichment of vocabulary because I’ve had something ready for years that will be put in place immediately to help everyone. And all of this will be done in English and Spanish.
The French test was eliminated years ago, but we will have information in Creole and other languages to hand out to motivate people. Why? Didn’t I say that we want “everyone” to progress?
Technology! Technology! Technology! Since the classroom seats that Eric Stevenson will provide will probably fill up and fill up fast, we are going to offer to the community online help to assure everyone that they will be able to study and get help. Dedication to the student will always be paramount. I can recall my last teaching site in Brooklyn where students were being held back from taking the test for months and even going on class trips when others were crying out “Let me take the test already.”
Oh gee! I almost forgot about the best meeting I had with a famous person. That happened in Philadelphia and Marvis Frazier brought “pops” from the back of the boxing gym to go nose to nose with me. Yes we stood there nose to nose in the doorway to the left in the photo before sitting down to talk and taking that photo as a remembrance. I was unknown to Joe and Marvis and suddenly we were all very close. And I told Joe that I knew that he had dropped out of school at 13 years of age to pick cotton.
Now I have had some amazing meetings, but “Smokin” Joe Frazier was the best. Why? I walked a long way from my car and Joe offered to get me a ride back to my car to be safe. Can you beat that for one human looking out for another?
Oh and there’s “Tiny” Archibald with me in Harlem a while back.
Okay one more. Here is the father of a famous baseball player who was a star on the Yankees and returned to New York from Seattle to play with the Mets.
His name is José Canó.
This is a time in history for brothers, sisters, friends, and neighbors to stand up for one another. Help is really on the way!