Here at FCI Petersburg the Education Department offers several programming opportunities. These include GED classes, English-as-a-Second Language classes, and Adult Continuing Education (ACE) courses. With the exception of the GED program, none of these programs offer outside recognition of course completion. None of the courses — outside of the GED program — are accredited or recognized as formal educational endeavors.
I’m all for learning for learning’s sake. As a matter of fact, I’m not only on the testing crew for the new self-paced ACE program here at FCI Petersburg, but I even take a different traditional ACE course each quarter. I do this because I enjoy taking classes and find it helpful to analyze other teachers’ methods of instruction. I feel that both my own knowledge base and teaching skills can be enhanced through these courses. This is regardless of program accreditation. Though I would certainly be interested in a program which I could add to a resume; something to help my employment prospects upon release. Sadly, a Federal Bureau of Prisons’ educational certificate is not going to do the trick.
Prisoners as a whole are an under-educated class. When they attend classes on resume writing or job interviews, they are at a loss for what to do with a resume and what to tell an employer. This is because many only have a GED; not even a real high school diploma. Some lack even a GED. Something needs to be done about this. If a prisoner is at a loss for how to explain their lack of an adequate work or educational history while in a classroom setting, which is designed to prepare them for job interviews, then the actual interviews will almost certainly be total failures. As correctional educators, we should not accept this. We should strive to prepare our students for success, not probable failure. In my mind, when my students fail, it is really me failing them since it was they who put their trust in me to prepare them for success.