Charters offer students over the age of 18 an alternative path to graduating high school
When people think about education, they usually focus on kindergarten through 12th grade, or perhaps higher education. But there are more than 30 million adults without high school diplomas, and the publicly funded adult education system can serve only two million of them every year.
In states and cities that allow it, charter schools are perfectly positioned to fill this void. Charters are public schools, but they have the freedom to create out-of-the box models for adults who want to improve their lives. Goodwill Industries, the national nonprofit agency best known for selling used goods, has a subsidiary that operates charters for adult dropouts – The Excel Centers – in a handful of states.
It all began in Indianapolis. Scott Bess, former president and chief operating officer of Goodwill Education Initiatives, says Goodwill was operating career centers – state-funded offices where people collected their unemployment checks and got information about jobs, training and education opportunities and six-week classes on job hunting and life skills. Half of those they served lacked high school diplomas, and they often returned multiple times because they couldn’t hold onto jobs. So Bess and his colleagues decided to do something more long-lasting, a charter high school.
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