By Peter Williams
Institutions such as Medgar Evers College School of Continuing Education play an important role in transforming the lives of Central Brooklyn’s residents. Continuing and adult education is needed more than ever today, especially in communities such as Central Brooklyn and others that face both an educational and employment crisis. For example, Central Brooklyn comprises nine community districts, in which, according to year 2000 census data, reside 747,497 people over the age of 25 years. Our analysis shows that 27.2 percent of those residents 25 or older do not have a high school diploma. More than 30 percent of the residents of five of the community districts have no diploma. In addition, the Community Service Society reports that nearly half of New York City’s black men are jobless.
It is the view of Medgar Evers College that it is imperative to change the trends cited above by creating opportunities for Central Brooklyn residents to acquire the academic credentials needed to successfully compete in today’s job market. Without these credentials, studies show the residents face bleak wage prospects. According to a report by the Workforce Strategy Center, Building a Career Pathways System: Promising Practices in Community College-Centered Workforce Development, “The gap between well-paying jobs and unemployed undereducated worker looms large.” The report’s data reveals a significant difference in income between people over 25 years without high school diplomas and people who have Associate’s degrees. Individuals with no high school diploma typically earn $21,391 annually, while those with an Associate’s degree earn $35,839. The income gap widens with each additional level of education.
Medgar Evers College’s Adult Education programs are geared to individuals who want to transform their lives by: 1) obtaining a GED; 2) enhancing their skills to improve their chances for career mobility; or 3) developing preparatory skills needed to enter college. Through its GED programs, the college can enhance the literacy rate among Central Brooklyn residents and provide them with the basic credentials necessary for entry into college. The college’s Adult and Continuing Education department also offers more than 130 courses and numerous certificate programs such as medical billing, paralegal, Web and graphic design, as well as drug and alcohol abuse counseling.
Medgar Ever College President Edison O. Jackson believes that education provides the road map to better lives and to the middle class, and that the College’s School of Continuing Education is an important means to achieve that goal. As we say at Medgar Evers College, “We Create Success, One Student At A Time”.
Peter Williams is Vice President for Adult Education at Medgar Evers College.