Should GED programming be the priority?

Should GED programming be the priority?

This question was my biggest dilemma. I originally chose to focus on GED programming to narrow in on my research since tackling correctional education can be difficult, but it limited me in a lot of ways. A good portion of the population I’m interested isn’t always eligible for GED programming. Those that are might have other preferences in programming, like substance abuse treatment, or were not able to finish the course due to being transferred/released.

With anything in life comes the age old economic problem of limited resources. Correctional programs are always struggling with limited resources, especially with the increase in population and expenses, so programs are often determined by the existing population and their needs. Early in my research, I had to consider two other types of educational programming, illiteracy and reentry programming.

Literacy Programming

There are different types of correctional education. In a report conducted by Florida’s Office of Program Analysis & Government Accountability (OPPAGA), they split educational programming into two categories, vocational and academic. GED programming falls under academic programming along with programs like Adult Basic Education (ABE), literacy programs and special education. According to OPPAGA’s report, about 68% of their inmates had less than ninth grade literacy proficiency and most were unemployed before incarceration. Even the national statistics for education achievement show 14% of state prisoners being below a 9th grade education level.

Educational attainment for state and federal prison inmates

 

Before beginning this journey, I had know idea that literacy would be one of the biggest challenges in correctional education.

Fabelo, T. (2002). The impact of prison education on community reintegration of inmates: The Texas case. Journal of Correctional Education, 53(3), 106-110.

Fabelo, T. (2002). The impact of prison education on community reintegration of inmates: The Texas case. Journal of Correctional Education, 53(3), 106-110.

The photo above is from a study of the Windham School District in Texas conducted between 1997 and 1998. The fact that 44% of those eligible to participate were regarded as “functionally illiterate” is quite concerning. 16% were considered “Nonreaders” which is a subset of  the functionally illiterate group. 

Reentry Programming

I also had to consider the value of vocational training and other programs that focus on reentry. Having a high school equivalency diploma won’t necessarily get you a job, especially if experience and skills are required. I’m still a big proponent for academic education, but being able to take care of yourself once you’re released takes priority. 

 


Sources:

  • Corrections rehabilitative programs effective, but serve only a portion of the eligible population. 2007. Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability
  • Harlow, C. W. (2003). Bureau of justice statistics special report: Education and correctional populations. U.S Department of Justice.
  • Fabelo, T. (2002). The impact of prison education on community reintegration of inmates: The Texas case. Journal of Correctional Education, 53(3), 106-110.
  • Mizel, M. L., Miles, J. N. V., Pedersen, E. R., Tucker, J. S., Ewing, B. A., & D’Amico, E. J. (2016). To educate or to incarcerate: Factors in disproportionality in school discipline. Children and Youth Services Review, 70, 102-111. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2016.09.009