The GED for Community

“Eighty percent of people in Rikers have no high school diploma and sixty-six percent have dyslexia.”

                       (Mayor) Eric Adams several months ago

“It takes a village (tribe) to raise a child.”

                       An African saying, slightly modified and timeless

I learned from the tribes of Alaska about five years ago that everyone in jail in Alaska had to study for the GED and Alaska has been the best state for GED for decades, delivering 4.8 diplomas per 100 people. Manhattan is the site of the City Council of New York and it was named for Indians that lived here. Those Indians did not need a GED. The GED was established in 194 when underage youth enlisted to fight in World War II. Patriotism has long left the struggle to help people with the GED. And New York State is one of the worst states in the nation for GED. And there are reasons for the good and bad in our state.

I added this paragraph today May 2, 2022 after adding material about Floyd which you will see later. I reached out to help New York City back then and you will see how I attempted to do that and it did involve Eric Adams. I never heard back about my request. I watched on television as we all did and saw a city that was under attack by behavior that increased the feeling that the city was poorly protected. Today the NYC Department of Education can learn where mistakes were being made back then, mistakes taking place during the school year. And I want everyone to be reminded that my work does go to the White House. We needed more police back then and the rest is history, bad history about city budgets and defunding the police. And my request which I documented in writing in The Force 2020 DDT had nothing to do with law and order campaigns that I find repugnant. It’s time for Joe Biden and Eric Adams to have another conversation, one that will resonate across our nation into other big city situations.

You can find councilmen who did not graduate from high school. There is one who lived in the Lillian Wald Houses in the building next to where I lived. Maria del Carmen Arroyo helped set up the GED compass in New York City, but it didn’t build up the badly needed numbers reaching 2,3,4, diplomas per 100.

After helping Jeb Bush’s Florida, I conducted a GED event in Tallahassee where I pointed out that a three-credit course in GED would prepare teachers much better to teach. I later gave testimony in Albany, one among many people, and I spoke about that idea which the New York State Department of Education picked up. Picked up? What happened to it? What happened to it!

Public safety is for all and the lack of education that includes bad decisions and desperation has had a negative impact on communities in New York City.  As a leading authority on GED or high school equivalency, I have known about the regulation to help offenders who have broken the law who are required by the courts to take the GED test. And I have been in touch with district attorneys recently and know what being done about this. And I know that much more has to be done and can be done.

Public safety has been one of my goals for a long time. I shook hands with the national chief of police of El Salvador in 2005 and that handshake never had a chance for a follow up. The vision I had was to help everyone including runaway youth, gang members, women who were victims of domestic violence, immigrants, homeless, people in rehabilitation for drugs, help for families that are underserved in NYCHA (I taught GED in 3 NYC housing developments…South Jamaica Houses was my last site) and more. People in power prevented that from happening.

I have already done a new outreach to the NYPD and that idea resulted from reading material on the website of the NYC Council. I have not been contacted yet. Silence? More silence? Does anyone wish to know what I wrote? Will the police commissioner take action if council members ask?

My work also entered important meetings including one in the Palacio Nacional in Santo Domingo where I gave the information with a well-known government employee working with Mayor Menino in Boston to take to the meeting. Surrogates matter! And by 2005 when I entered San Salvador to fight for the people there, I was already known through word of mouth in the presidential cabinet of El Salvador. During my stay the president of El Salvador spoke on television about how his brother who resided in California obtained the GED and went on to a career in the medical profession. I helped a Dominican youth in Central Islip who dropped out of school and who at 19 still had no diploma. She soon entered a career as a CNA on Long Island.

I have been in touch with the police department throughout the years and I have been in touch with the usual silence. I had a meeting with the top civilian in the police department and told him what was needed and that took place under Michael Bloomberg. Does anyone at the City Council know about my work detailing The Bloomberg-Klein mistakes?  And about those mistakes does anyone on the City Council know about my intervention on the radio talk show Gambling in the Morning where I confronted Mayor Mike Bloomberg? Does history matter? Does anyone want to know what I asked and what Bloomberg answerd?

And have I not seen other things as well such as youth in church programs being taken to jail to learn about the old program Scared Straight. Church youth? Were they going to be future social workers working in criminal justice? That program was eliminated. There are about 54,000 gang members in Chicago alone. So based on known statistics what happens to the gang members who earn a GED? Do we know? There was a significant grant given to the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of America to Dallas, Texas to reduce gang membership? What happened there as well?  And in New York City, you could ask the Department of Education about what is happening to gang members.

Being involved at a high level of education has put me into a position to be able to explain just why far too many people are engaged in criminal acts that harm society. New York City has not been a good place for GED. When David Paterson was governor, I helped put together a meeting in Albany with Senator Gonzalez and at that meeting a sheet of information was circulated that not one person had passed the GED in Rikers’ Correctional Institution in a year. I contacted the assistant to the governor days later to inform him and to find out why this happened.

At that same meeting, I had to intervene in the discussion as the focus was placed on helping New York State obtain a higher passing percentage of candidates for the test. My objection was that the state of New York needed more and more adults with a diploma and that is not achieved by a higher passing percentage. What New York City needed was a greater mobilization of young people and more diplomas, even if the passing percentage was lower.

 Here is an illustration that should hit a home run is this discussion. Delaware always has a very high passing percentage in our nation, but very few people take the test and are allowed to take the test. The raw numbers make Delaware one of the worst states in the nation even though it has that high passing percentage. And what else was going on in Delaware at the same time? Delaware made national news for its very high suspension of African American students from school. And that combination was and is harmful to communities there.

And long before I was providing important critical information to the Washington Bureau of the NAACP and I shared information with that office after learning about the students suspended in Delaware. I had been involved in the student suspension hearing that resulted from an incident in the South Jamaica Houses in the 1990s. You can read about that incident in my book by clicking here Floyd. The article was written about George Floyd in May of 2020 so in the middle of the article just click open the section about calling a student Coleman and open the book. A suspension of a student was averted through timely actions. And guess what? I normally say that nobody listens to me, but the parent of that student listened to me. She prevented the suspension since I was not there to give testimony at the hearing.

Think of it this way as well. If a family of ten children dropped out of high school and two took and passed the test. That would give it a 100 percent passing rate for those who took the test, but eight others in that family would be left behind or left out. And throughout the last two decades in New York only 1 out of every 100 adults has earned a GED. Other states have produced 2,3, and 4 diplomas per 100 people. And that is why New York has been a bad GED state and the city is problematic affecting the criminal justice system and pipeline to prison.

The GED for Community will be a new effort. I put this information online in association with the leadership of the United Bodegas of America. For those who are not studying anywhere, this is a movement to Do the Right Thing. People working in bodegas are victims of violence and see the violence at other times on their blocks. Everyone in the city should be able to be assured of greater prevention of crime so that families can have more peace of mind. And that includes the families of police officers.

You have seen the dates of publication of the articles. Some work preceded the outbreak of this pandemic and things have gotten worse for adults since. People need to catch up everywhere and our youth have to be rescued. Stronger prevention is needed by all to make the streets and communities safer.

I am an educator who can easily help the police in their effort to keep everyone safe. The violence against innocent people and police is always on my mind. We have to help each other in ways that are not always clear at first.  Please contact me and I am available to participate in a Zoom to answer all important questions.

Have police in precincts ever seen my You Tube related to saving the GED testing over a decade ago? Take a look at the statements made at the event that was held outside City Hall. The brother of Jam Master Jay was my keynote speaker. The camera work was done by a friend of ours who had gone with Bill Cosby and several violence interrupters (the National Exhoodus Council) to meet Barack Obama to talk about helping communities. I helped that organization put together two community events targeting gang violence in Yonkers and Far Rockaway and I was a panelist cooperating with that organization in Philadelphia, at events that were held in the African American Museum in Philly and a charter school where people from around the country attended the National Black Violence Convention.  And there was another event with police addressing the audience about critical things that police were concerned about including police handling of a fatality.

The youth who spoke after my event was over did an amazing job as he told us that his friends were thinking about doing illegal and destructive things. And today we learn that in Florida that a hundred youth knew that their teenage friends were playing around with guns and bullet proof vests before one of the youths was killed. Now the parents of that teen demand to know why so many people kept quiet about what was going on for some time.

Also, at the City Hall event former City Councilman Robert Jackson and chairman of the education committee came out of City Hall and without confirming his appearance with me took over my event for 8 minutes. And community people, immigrants of the New York City spoke out. They did the right thing and now it is up to everyone else.

These are things to share with commanders and all staff in the precinct.

And more can be done soon to achieve the goal of crime reduction. Just ask me! There is a plan of action.

Watch it. Click here.

Watch it. Click here.

Watch it. Click here.

Watch the You Tubes and learn more about the city of New York and learn one of the most important reasons why there are major gaps in the progress of youth, immigrants, and adults who are affected by the poverty. Mayor Michael Bloomberg initiated a big anti-poverty campaign and he fell far short because he didn’t listen. The same problems hurt the city in 2022. I’m wondering right now if there are members of the City Council of New York who are listening to me.