Jim Landers teaches the Adult Education class offered by the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, a new organization at 35th and Spring Garden streets.
The organization is already making its mark in the community through an urban extension partnership with Drexel University.
Education and job placement and readiness programs are just one facet of the services the Dornsife Center offers the people of West Philadelphia.
Landers is an adult education veteran, having worked on the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy for 22 years. His students at the Dornsife Center are part of an ongoing six-week GED prep course and all have entered the class at different levels of readiness.
“Some feel strong enough to pass three out of the 5 tests,” Landers said. “But weaker in the other two, usually math and/or writing.”
The GED test is changing next year. All previous scores from all previous tests will be erased and applicants will have to start over.
“Basically those who aren’t ready to take and pass all five parts of the test by then will have to prepare for a completely new test,” Landers said.
The participants at Dornsife don’t seem to feel the crunch, however.
Attendance among the class members, many of whom have jobs and families to attend to aside from class, is sporadic, Landers said.
“I understand that people have lives but if you’re serious about something like this you have to take ownership of it,” Landers said.
Still, many in the class are in danger of not making the cutoff date.
When asked what kind of support the class would need in order to be ready, Landers pointed out the university reaches out to participants and stresses there are jobs available through Drexel, thus providing incentive to earn the GED as soon as possible.
In addition, Drexel provides computer training. Many of the participants in the Adult Education program also make use of the Dornsife computer literacy classes and public access computers.
However, the participants here are dealing with, “not so much a lack of access as a lack of interest,” Landers said.
Three students showed up to the last session, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll come back for the next.
January first still looms, how many will have earned their GED by then and moved on? At this rate, Landers said he is not optimistic.
“For students prepping for the new GED test, one or two hours a week won’t be enough,” he said.