GED Exams End in January
Without New Funding
Due to a federal ruling disallowing the use by New York State
of certain federal funds for administering the General Equivalency
Diploma (GED) exams -and deep cuts made by Governor Pataki
to the State Education Department's budget—GED exams
may be canceled after January. This is a consequence that absolutely
must be prevented.
Approximately 55,000 young adults take the GED exam each year,
but over half of the funds used to administer these tests are
no longer available.
Federal education officials informed the state nearly four
months ago that they were disallowing the use of $2.1 million
in Workforce Investment Act funds that had been used by the
state to help underwrite the cost of administering the GED
exams, which cost the state approximately $4 million a year.
If the State Education Department (SED) and the governor's
Division of the Budget do not come to some agreement on how
to fill this gap, there will likely be no GED exams—none—after
January. That would be disastrous for thousands of young men
and women, because not having a high school diploma bars individuals
from most private sector jobs, from civil service employment
and from serving in the military.
The crisis precipitated by disallowing the use of the federal
dollars for the exams is much more difficult to resolve because
of Governor Pataki's regular assault on the State Education
Department's budget, this year to the tune of $7 million. When
the legislature voted a partial restoration, Pataki vetoed
the measure. This has been his pattern, year after year. The
governor has historically cut funding for the State Education
Department to the bone, to such a degree that the department
barely has sufficient resources to even minimally fulfill all
of its responsibilities. SED was going to use these federal
dollars to help pay for the exams because it has, thanks to
Pataki, such insufficient resources.
Now the governor must come forward and replace the federal
dollars, but not by raiding funding earmarked for other essential
adult education programs.
If the issue is not resolved by the end of the year, there
will be thousands of people who, because they have neither
graduated with a diploma from high school nor earned a GED,
will lose job opportunities and be unable to go on to junior
or senior colleges.
Finally, it is very troubling and really inexcusable that the
State Education Department kept silent about the denial of the
federal money for months. They had the information before the
state budget was passed, and their silence makes a resolution
of this all that much tougher.
Still, action has to be taken—and fast—by the
Governor to secure this program and to rescue thousands of
young adults who will otherwise find themselves academically
stranded. The prospect of GED exams ending is horrendous, almost
beyond belief. It
cannot be allowed to happen. What, for God's sake, will these
thousands of students do?#
Steven Sanders is chairman of the New York State Assembly's Education
e-mail him at email@example.com or phone