Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
Not GEDs. Diplomas.
In the age of library reinvention, local branches have pondered going bookless, going private, incubating start-up businesses and opening music studios (not that any of these ideas are mutually exclusive). The strategies reflect the changing nature of how we relate to the original stuff of libraries – books – and what we need of our civic institutions.
In response to both shifts, the Los Angeles Public Library is now adding another innovation to this lengthening list: It's planning to offer high school diplomas. The library announced Thursday that it will work with a private online education company to offer classes for high-school credit with in-person support at individual branches. The program is geared toward adult drop-outs, who would ultimately receive a diploma, not a GED.
"We're excited to think about how we'll do graduation," library director John Szabo told the Associated Press, which has more details:
The library hopes to grant high school diplomas to 150 adults in the first year at a cost to the library of $150,000, Szabo said. Many public libraries offer programs to prepare students and in some cases administer the General Educational Development test, which for decades was the brand name for the high school equivalency exam.
But Szabo believes this is the first time a public library will be offering an accredited high school diploma to adult students, who will take courses online but will meet at the library for assistance and to interact with fellow adult learners.
The Los Angeles Unified School District has a dropout rate of more than 20 percent, making a program like this precisely the kind of service the city needs as the library system looks for new ways to be useful. To start with, the library is planning to target branches in neighborhoods with particularly high dropout rates.
Top image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.