Three specially trained Ambassadors from the Queen Creek Unified School District Adult Education Program recently met with Senator Barbara McGuire of District 8. The Adult Education Student Ambassadors are charged with educating citizens and lawmakers about the value of GED and adult English Language Programs to individuals, families, the community, and the economy of Arizona.
Queen Creek Ambassadors Polly Von Esse, Eleanna Mitchell, and Maria Jacobs come from three different nations; two are now United States citizens. “Earning my GED in English is a source of great pride for me,” says Von Esse. “In my home country, I was a secretary. Here, I have been a wife and mom. My daughter is now in ASU. I intend to start a second career in healthcare.”
Eleanna Mitchell, a native of Greece, is a small business owner. “Improving my English helps me lot in my business. My next goal is to earn my GED in English and then to study social work.”
Maria Jacobs has also earned her GED in English through the Queen Creek program. She now serves as a volunteer mentor and tutor to other adult learners, and is a volunteer tutor for first graders at Chandler Library. Her goal is to return to school and become a teacher for second career adults like herself who wish to improve their computer skills.
While all three women had high school diplomas, and in some cases degrees, from their home countries, neither their credentials nor their work experience is recognized in the United States. They must, essentially, start over.
The Ambassadors represent hundreds of adult learners in the Queen Creek Adult Education Program and thousands throughout Arizona.
According to the Arizona Department of Education:
• Approximately 825,000 Arizonans age 16 or older do not have high school diplomas or GEDs and are not enrolled in school.
• Of adults aged 18 and older, 323, 000 cannot communicate effectively in English.
• Per US Department of Labor-Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings in 2008 of a person with less than a high school diploma is $8,580 less per year than a high school graduate.
• The over 835,000 Arizonans without a high school diploma or GED represent over $7,075,000,000 in lost taxable income.
An investment in the cost-effective adult education programs is a win-win for Arizona and for adult learners.
Senator McGuire stated that she wishes adult education programs could be expanded to rural areas. She knows that she has many constituents who need and want such classes, but the classes are not available in outlying areas. The Senator recognizes that free GED and English language programs represent a chance for many adults to permanently improve their lives and the lives of their families.