College & Workforce Readiness

High School Equivalency for Migrant Youth: Enough?

By Catherine Gewertz — July 09, 2009 1 min read

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?

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School Connections blog.