Editorial: Helping young people succeed

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A guest editorial by Dr. Anthony Parker, Albany Tech

It is an undeniable fact that there is a correlation between poverty and education here in Southwest Georgia. It is also an undeniable fact that children born into poverty are dependent on a combination of the success of their parents, and time, in order to become affluent.

The new 4C Academy in Southwest Georgia will definitely be a proponent in changing the lives of its graduates and I will continue to support their endeavors.

However, our approach to creating affluence must be time-sensitive. At best, school reform can deliver to graduation no more than the students who are in the current senior class. Some of these will join the military or consider colleges and careers that could take them away from our community. This leaves our area employers in a crisis of need to obtain additional, well-prepared graduates that could not possibly be available through high school graduation in the next five years.

We must turn to young and middle adults in our community to fill these employment gaps.

Over 80 percent of well-paying jobs require one year or more of post-secondary education. While I understand this statement may be considered self-serving coming from the president of a technical college, I am confident that any serious researcher will come to the same or a similar conclusion.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, the three governors prior to him, and the Georgia General Assembly recognized that there is a high correlation between workforce preparation, family affluence, and the reduction of the poverty rate. I believe that goes a bit further. People with good jobs also have employer-provided health insurance.

We have a direct mechanism that will assist some of those in poverty to pay for the direct workforce education offered. Also, adult education classes that lead to a GED are free. The HOPE Grant, the enhanced HOPE Career Grant, and PELL are some of those mechanisms and in selected programs, covers the cost of certificates and one-year diploma programs.

The Albany Industry Roundtable has endorsed the four-month Industrial Operations Technician program at Albany Tech and the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget fully funded the program as an enhanced HOPE Career Grant-eligible program.

The journey from poverty to affluence will take eight weeks to two years. The Technical College System of Georgia and Albany Technical College cannot eliminate all the poverty in Albany and Dougherty County, but we can make the difference for an additional 300 to 600 families each year.

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