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High School Equivalency for Migrant Youth: Enough?

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The U.S. Department of Education announced $7.1 million in grants today to 11 states for programs designed to help migratory teenagers who aren't in school earn "the equivalent of a high school diploma."

The grants, awarded through the High School Equivalency Program in the department's Office of Migrant Education, are for a range of services including counseling and job placement and health care. Programs are intended to help the adolescents go on to jobs or postsecondary education, according to the department.

The value of those services is hard to argue with, but the grants did start me wondering about the value of "high school equivalency" for these teenagers. I know the announcement says that the aim is work or "postsecondary" training. But in an era when so many smart folks are arguing that any decent living will depend on having a college education, how many of these kids will end up with just "high school equivalency" and not "postsecondary" training? And where will that leave them?

An announcement from another program in the department's Office of Migrant Education today said $5 million in grants had been awarded to nine states for programs that will help migrant teenagers succeed in college. A partial answer, perhaps?

1 Comment

You have raised a good point. All too often, government programs specifically targeted for a particular minority population ultimately have a detrimental effect, because of how they are implemented.

It is imperative that the program’s implementation not be allowed to slide into inappropriate assumptions about what “migrant teenagers” as a group do or do not need.

The HEP site says the program is intended to prepare these students for both high school and postsecondary levels, but “postsecondary” isn’t always a traditional four-year college.

Postsecondary training in skilled trades may be more appropriate for some students in any population, but a certain number will be exactly the kind of brilliant minds who will flourish best in a four-year college or university.

For them, the kind of support services that will help them overcome cultural and financial barriers in traditional four-year colleges and universities are especially needed to help them achieve their full potential.

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