Economy pushing more to get GED

By Christy Hendricks
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Even though the unemployment rate continues to rise, there is a silver lining.
More people are going back to the classroom---so much so that the Adult Learning Center in Cape Girardeau had to cap enrollment a couple weeks ago.
Putting pencil to paper, figuring fractions, areas, and circumferences, Martha Craft's also refiguring herself, after she lost her job from the Thorngate factory in November.
"It's been very hard for me because I quit school when I was young and I had the job for 24 years and it's something that, that I knew I had to do and then you lose it and you don't have it, you're like 'What am I going to do?'" Martha said.
Nowadays the Adult Learning Center is like a second home for Martha.
She's hitting the books at least three days a week, seven hours a day, something she says the economy pushed her to do.
"This is something I've wanted to do for years and I just kept putting it off and putting it off, but now I'm determined to do it," she said. 
Lots of folks like Martha are working toward gaining their GED or brush up on basic skills after losing their jobs.
"We're enrolling maybe 10 or 16 people a day which is far more than what we can handle as far as taking care of the students and meeting students' needs," said Becky Atwood, Coordinator of Adult Education and Literacy. 
Atwood says she began noticing more enrolling in the free, indiviualized study program in November, with a sharp increase in January.
They capped enrollment a couple weeks ago.  The waiting list continues to grows every day.
"I think the dislocated workers have been a big part of it," Atwood said.  "But I also think that the general populace is beginning to realize that you really can not move ahead, whether it's employment or anything else if you don't have a high school education.  You might have been able to get a job and for many years people did, but that's no longer the case."
Since it can be daunting going back to school after decades in the workforce, Martha wants young people to stick with their education.
"That's what I told my son," Martha said.  "I said 'You're not quitting.' I said 'I know how hard it was on me and you're not quitting to go do something you may never finish like me.' And I'm really glad that I came here to finish what I should have finished a long time ago.
Martha hopes to take her GED test in June and become a veterinary technician.
While the program is free, it does cost $40 to take the GED test.  It's offered once a month in Cape Girardeau.
The director of testing services says they are anticipating the need for more testing dates in the summer as more people complete the adult education program.  Testing sites have already been added in Jefferson City because of increased requests for the test.
Adult Learning Center
301 N. Clark, Cape Girardea, MO
Mon.-Fri. 7:30am - 4pm
Mon., Tues, Thurs., 5:30pm - 8pm
Advance AEL Learning Center
19805 St. Hwy. C Advance, MO
Mon.-Wed. 7:30am - noon & 12:30pm - 4pm
Mon. & Tues. 6pm - 8:30pm
Bollinger County AEL Center
201 Hwy 34 W., Marble Hill, MO
573-334-3669 (for info)
Mon. - Thurs. 8:30am - 11am
Mon. & Wed. 6pm - 8:30pm
GED on Broadway
Marquette Towers, 6th floor Cape Girardea, MO
Mon.-Fri. 8am - noon
Perryville GED Class
326 College, Perryville, MO
573-334-3669 (for info)
Mon. & Thurs. 5:30pm - 8pm
Ste. Genevieve GED
Vocational Building Ste. Genevieve, MO
573-334-3669 (for info)
Tues. 5:30pm - 8:30 pm