Concerns of jobs, education surround Messick shutdown

State ends funding for adult education

The Messick Adult Center is a place where those who want to finish high school can get their GED.

"We found out from the state that Thursday night will be the last night for adult education classes here at Messick," said instructor Martha Shaw. "We also found out that it won't be the end of adult education classes period in the Memphis area."

Shaw has been an instructor in the ESOL adult education program at Messick for more than a year. She said the GED students there need the program.

"Adults who have no alternative except to go back to school and re-establish their education," she said.

ESOL students come to learn English so they can thrive in America.

"They want to be able to live the life that they came here to live," Shaw said.

Shaw said the state pulling the contract with SCS for the Messick program is troublesome.

"This is their best option," Shaw said. "But now, that option has been taken from them."

According to Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Adult Education officials, the contract with SCS was going to expire in June, but they chose to terminate it early after a year-long dispute over performance.

Under the grant, SCS was supposed to provide services to as many as 70,000 people—three-fourths of adults in the area without a high school diploma.

In January, they only had 882 adults enrolled, and through the last six months of 2015, only 24 people got their high school equivalency diplomas.

Now, those students will be able to continue their studies at HopeWorks, a non-profit that had a state contract to serve those in Shelby County that Messick was not serving.

Shaw worries that will make attending classes tough for Messick students, since there are fewer HopeWorks campuses than Messick.

She worries that students will drop out because of commutes.

Plus, the closing means a lot of people losing their jobs.

"It's okay for me," Shaw, who teaches in her retirement, said. "But there are people whose jobs are full-time adult school. They don't have a job."

After March 7, the state will accept bids for a new contract to administer adult education and SCS will be able to submit a bid to get the program back.

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