Fewer Texans Are Getting Their GED

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJanuary 8, 2018 2:31 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The number of Texans taking and passing the GED test has been declining for almost 15 years, according to a new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank.

The group found that 17.6 percent of adults in the state who are over 25-years-old, do not have a high school diploma or something equivalent. Chandra Villanueva, the lead author of the study says “that means there are three million adults who basically are unable to continue their education or apply for a large number of jobs that require at the bare minimum a high school diploma.”

Texans without a high school diploma or the equivalent earn a median annual income of $21,362. Those who have graduated from high school, or who have earned the equivalent of a high school diploma earn $28,000 per year.

Villanueva found that between 2003 and 2016, there was a 40 percent drop in the number of people passing the test. There was an especially large drop off in 2014 when the GED test underwent major changes. However, Villanueva says the number of Texans taking the test was already trending downwards and there are other reasons fewer Texans are trying to get their GEDs.

“And I think of one of the main reasons is that we don’t really have a system in place in the state of Texas to identify and encourage people who don’t have a high school diploma to get back into an education,” says Villanueva. She, in particular, understands the importance of having resources for people seeking a GED because she dropped out of high school when she was 16-years-old.  “I was lucky enough that I lived in a state that had a really strong system to make sure I didn’t fall through the cracks,” explains Villanueva.

At that time, Villanueva was able to enroll in a community college prep course, take the test at that same school, and it was all subsidized by her home state.

But those same resources aren’t available in Texas.

“There are a lot of sort of subsidized training programs to prep you for the GED, but once it comes to the test taking it’s all out of pocket,” she says.

The three different versions of the GED test that people can take in Texas range in cost from $124 to $145, which,, is not a small sum when you consider that the median annual income for someone who has not completed high school is just over $21,000.

Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez formally launched her Democratic bid for governor of Texas Sunday. KERA News reports that Valdez, speaking in north Texas, criticized the state’s Republican leadership.

“They have made up issues: Bathrooms, sanctuary cities, massive voter fraud, jade helm. It would be amusing if it wasn’t causing so much harm. It’s costing us jobs, and it’s certainly destroying the Texas brand,” Valdez said.

Valdez is looking to go toe-to-toe with the state’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott who is running for reelection this year. Before that can happen, Valdez has to beat out a crowded field of Democratic primary contenders vying for the chance to challenge Abbott. That includes another well-known Democrat, Houston’s Andrew White, a businessman and son of former Texas governor, Mark White.

At the end of last week, Houston couple Chudy and Sandra Nsobundu were sentenced and ordered to pay restitution in a nanny enslavement case.

The victim was a Nigerian woman. Upon arrival to the United States in 2013 with false documents, she was forced to take care of their home and five children without pay for two years.

Michelle LaRowe, executive director of Morningside Nannies told Houston Public Media immigrant domestic workers are especially vulnerable to this kind of abuse.

“We do know that it happens in the United States, more than we’d like to think,” LaRowe said.

Attorneys say the Katy couple confiscated the victim’s passport and visa—and threatened to harm her, or send her back to Nigeria, if she didn’t comply.