President’s Corner: Our Message of Solidarity and a Call to Action
The recent weeks have challenged me and others to think about how we can better support, promote and be advocates for Black communities.
This call to action, and the commitment to change, is one that I have made personally and professionally and will implement in my work as a leader at GED Testing Service.
Last week we shared an official statement that details our stance against racism and injustice and offers insight on how we are holding ourselves accountable to doing the work that is needed for true equality and justice for all.
Here is our full published statement from June 4, 2020:
There are no words to describe or make sense of the tragic killing of George Floyd and countless other acts of violence and discrimination against the black community. Sadly, this is another painful reminder of the inequities and injustices that are experienced and witnessed by the black community everyday.
One message should be heard loud and clear; all people, no matter their background must be afforded equal dignity. Any and all forms of racism, injustice, and violence are intolerable and must be condemned.
As a leader, as a born and raised Minnesotan, as a mother, daughter, sister and friend, I recognize that more needs to be done. As a white privileged American, I will never fully understand what it’s like to be a black man or woman. The hurt, fear, and trauma these experiences have caused for our black friends, colleagues, neighbors, and community is overwhelming and incomprehensible. Over the past week, we’ve all been asking why it’s so difficult for our society to address injustice for what it truly is. I’ve also asked how my actions, as a leader, can be changed to do more. And while I don’t have an immediate answer, we will commit to doing what is necessary to bring change.
Our GED Testing Service mission since the 1940’s has been to provide new opportunities for many adults who have been marginalized, pushed out, or didn’t fit neatly into the K-12 system. It is a primary reason why I work at GED Testing Service, and what drives me every day. We take the mission of providing opportunities and second chances seriously. However, the events of this past week have made it clear that we can and must do more. We need to have a plan, and not one that’s here today and gone tomorrow.
We’ll be developing a plan that will bring about awareness, highlight underrepresented voices and help bring about lasting change. Our plan will incorporate continued and advanced engagement with local organizations, especially within the black community. We will create both an internal and an external team that will focus on how we can help address issues in historically marginalized communities including African American, Latino, and Native American students. We will learn, grow, and act on what we learn. We will continue telling and showing profound and powerful stories of hard work, grit, and strength of our GED students and grads who overcome all odds. We will invite more opportunities to provide guidance, support and financial assistance to our local black communities. We need to do more, and I am personally committed to making this happen.
This is an extremely painful but important time in America. Events of the last week have yet again put the spotlight on longstanding systemic issues and injustices. To bring about healing, we must hold ourselves accountable to making a difference in the ways that each of us can. We have a long way to go, but I am hopeful that we as leaders and community members will do what we can to make a difference and bring about meaningful change.
May we find a way to seek the best in each and every person. May we spend time lifting one another up. I hold tight to a future of hope, equality, justice, and opportunity for all our students and our society.
President, GED Testing Service
What a powerful and inspiring message. I hope everyone who reads it, takes time to absorb the information and generates a plan to do their share to eliminate inequality, injustices, and the “longstanding systemic issues”.
Thank you Dr. Renee Burwell! We appreciate your support.
Dear Ms. Greene,
I just read your and your GED Testing organization’s very poor editorial and political commentary. It appears that you and your GED organization now appear to be into the protest and activist camp popularized recently and sending out GED emails with lots of political Democratic garbage. Therefore, I no longer plan to support or participate in anymore GED Testing Service and teaching efforts.
If you want to take the GED Testing Service down this modern “political” road, I plan to talk to all my teaching friends to no longer support you and your organization. There are many other good organizations here in Texas besides Pearson VUE that help students get a state certified high school diploma. You have now adopted the same liberal education philosophy that is currently rampant in many of our public schools and why the US Education System is now way down the rating list compared to other countries. Very poor.
Even though many of my distant relatives came from Minnesota and live in that state, I am totally ashamed of this. Minnesota is and has been a total disgrace. Please remove my email address from all future GED Testing Service publications and broadcasts. Thank you.
Regards, Dr. Dennis Delzer, PhD
Dear Dr. Delzer,
Thank you for taking the time to respond and provide your opinion. My intention is to stand up for all adult learners who need a second opportunity to earn a HS diploma that better prepares them for today’s jobs, career training programs, and postsecondary education.
We know that 1 in 5 GED students are Black and close to 3 in 5 students are Latino. It is our responsibility to stand with our learners and let them know that we hear them, we recognize that they are struggling with obstacles every day, and we are here to encourage them to keep pursuing their education.
I am hopeful that as educators we can all stand together now and in the future, advocating for our learners as they change their lives for the better. We respect your opinions, and will ensure that you are removed from GED Testing Service publications and newsletters. We appreciate all that you have done for our GED students in Texas.
You stated, “It appears that you and your GED organization now appear to be into the protest and activist camp popularized recently and sending out GED emails with lots of political Democratic garbage.”
You never stated what you are “into.” I don’t want to infer, so please explain why you feel so left out and like you can’t breathe? Because it “appears” you are into protest too – you just have a different agenda.
State your claim, and make it plain!
Thank you as a black educator. If only we could all do unto others as we would want done unto us.
Dianne, thank you for your support and for all of the endless hours you spend as an educator.
I truly hope that GED Testing Service will work closely with states to lower the cost of testing.
Our students have the lowest incomes and need financial help to break the cycle of poverty.
Meg, thank you for taking the time to provide feedback and for your dedication to GED students. We will continue to look for ways to partner and offset the cost of testing. We created the GEDWorks program to help students get a credential for free and we’re actively working to create additional partnerships to make the GED credential attainable for more students in need.
As a black man and a veteran educator, I have been in tears over the past few days. Your heartfelt words truly touched me…Your expressions outweigh the frustrating impressions of oppression. Thank you very much. We are in this together!
Catrell, thank you for your heartfelt words! We ARE in this together, and we greatly value your partnership and commitment to education.
I agree that racism, discrimination, acts of violence and injustice are absolutely unacceptable at any time…not only towards black people, but towards all people. The death of George Floyd was reprehensible and those involved, need to be punished for their crime. However, you need to do your homework on the Black Lives Matter movement and commit yourself to researching what this organization actually advocates.
Black Lives Matter purposes to subvert the passion of the American people for racial justice, by supporting a fascist, socialistic society. They state, “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure…” which is paramount to what our country was founded on. I want to believe that your promotion of this organization on the front of this newsletter was done in ignorance because you have failed to understand their radical stance. However, regardless of your views, I find your posting of this organization to be offensive and in no way, a place for a GED newsletter.
We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure
I do not understand your point, and yes, I am black. Please elaborate on how the letter is offensive, because I actually find your letter to be divisive, which is exactly why the country is in uproar and chaos. Sometime we have to be comfortable being uncomfortable!
Is there a reason you are not posting my comments?
You espouse two statements in your newsletter above:
1. “One message should be heard loud and clear; all people, no matter their background must be afforded equal dignity. Any and all forms of racism, injustice, and violence are intolerable and must be condemned.”
By refusing to allow me to share my viewpoint, you are indeed failing to show me “equal dignity” and you are expressing “injustice” towards that which you do not want to hear.
2. “I hold tight to a future of hope, equality, justice, and opportunity for all our students and our society.”
If you say you “hold tight to…equality and opportunity,” you are miserably failing in this regard, when you refuse to give me the right to share my viewpoint.
Melissa, thank you for taking the time to respond and provide your opinion. Our intention at GED Testing Service is and has been to ensure that all students have the same ability to pursue opportunities as stated in our recent GED communications, “One message should be heard loud and clear; all people, no matter their background must be afforded equal dignity. Any and all forms of racism, injustice, and violence are intolerable and must be condemned.” I am glad that we both agree on this! My intention was and never will be to offend anyone.
I think more culturally diverse representation in the RLA passages would be a meaningful change.
Hi Jon, thank you for your comment. Kay had a similar question/comment. As far as the GED test goes, one responsibility that we have to our test-takers is to make sure that we are providing test items that allow for every test-taker to demonstrate his or her best performance. To do this, tests like ours avoid topics from current events that could be considered “sensitive” by some test-takers. When these sensitive topics are introduced in a testing environment, they can trigger an emotional response in test-takers that can detract from their ability to perform their best on a standardized test. We want to make certain that our test measures the skills of test-takers without creating a response that may be seen as unfair or inappropriate. Again, that does not mean that these sensitive topics are not worthy of discussion in our society at large – they certainly are – but we do not include these types of topics in conjunction with our specific mission of providing a high -quality, fair and unbiased testing program. Hope this helps. Thank you.
You might consider providing more samples of the RLA essay prompts involving pros and cons. Some of these samples might include topics regarding racism, policing, incarceration, income inequality, and health services inequalities.
Kay,Thank you for your suggestion regarding potential topics for the RLA extended response item. The ideas you mention are certainly important topics that should be discussed widely in the US, considering the impact of recent events. As far as the GED test goes, one responsibility that we have to our test-takers is to make sure that we are providing test items that allow for every test-taker to demonstrate his or her best performance. To do this, tests like ours avoid topics from current events that could be considered “sensitive” by some test-takers. When these sensitive topics are introduced in a testing environment, they can trigger an emotional response in test-takers that can detract from their ability to perform their best on a standardized test. We want to make certain that our test measures the skills of test-takers without creating a response that may be seen as unfair or inappropriate. Again, that does not mean that these sensitive topics are not worthy of discussion in our society at large – they certainly are – but we do not include these types of topics in conjunction with our specific mission of providing a high -quality, fair and unbiased testing program.
As a young African American Woman growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I don’t know weather is is PTSD or a sense of awareness as to what is possible. My 11th grade year was the first year of forced integration after the civil rights movement. Needless to say that was a tumultuous year and nothing got done or was agreed upon. The point of the story is one of pride and the officers’ pictures of the 11th grade looks profoundly different then the 12th grade year. They way we pivoted from mortal enemies to friends will always be a sense of personal pride and belief that when one sees humanity, compassion, empathy and fairness beyond skin color and ethnicity, it is an amazing thing when the heart and mind which look the same when we are cut open is joyous. We must keep going and trying.
Shirley, thank you for sharing your story, and for your personal pride and believe that we all must keep going and trying! We are all in this together.
Thank you for saying this Ms. Greene. This isn’t a partisan issue, this is a human decency issue. I applaud anyone who stands up for any of our adult learners – no matter the race, creed, religion, ethnicity, etc. Many of them (white, brown, black, etc.) have been in terrible economic positions and have suffered different types of abuse as children and young adults. We all need to stand up for our learners who have been looked down upon and continue to be marginalized. They need our help to enable them to lift themselves up, both in our classrooms and outside the classroom.
For those of us who read the good book, remember what John said, “He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” [1 John 4:21]. It is our responsibility to show love and compassion, and unity not just at home, but also in our communities.
Standing up for a vulnerable population doesn’t diminish others, it makes us all stronger.
Jason, thank you for your comments and for being an advocate for human decency and being a strong voice. We appreciate your support and for advocating for all GED students.
I am very disturbed by your letter. You state your “white privilege”. That turned me off completely. I, too, am white. However, I don’t consider my whiteness a means of racism on my part. When I hear that term, It means that if you are white you are a racist. It is used too much and in a negative way.
As a GED instructor for 17 years, I have taught students of all colors and ethnicities and not once have I looked at a student in a derogatory manner. Not once have I considered any student as not being able to succeed because of color etc. I always thought that the GED was colorblind and meant for all people regardless of who they are. You now show me that this is not the case. Are you going to purposely start looking to see what check mark is used to determine which “test” will be given to students? That is what I hear in your reply.
This coming year will be my last year of teaching. I am retiring and now I am truly glad that I am. I am now ashamed to represent the GED idealogy. I realize that some of the questions on the test have shown bias–based on students’ claims–but I overlooked it as just being current (especially regarding climate change).
If the GED goes down this road, it will disappear as one of the best alternative high school diploma.
If the world were as you (incorrectly) described, the term “white privilege” would have never been coined. No one is saying because you are white, you are racist’ however, because you are white, you are (automatically) privileged–accepted or not. The same students that you taught that you say were all of different races/ethnicities, unfortunately, will not experience the same job opportunities and promotional privileges white students will be exposed to, even though both groups have received the same education and have the same experience or lack thereof. If you are not aware of this substantiated reality/truth, I’m not sure how you can call yourself an educator, and more importantly, it is great you are retired because your mode of thinking needs a long overdue timeout!
Catrell, thank you for your response. I appreciate your response and support.
Hi Gloria, thank you for taking the time to respond and provide your opinion as well as dedicating 17 year of your time to educating GED students. Our intention at GED Testing Service is and has been to ensure that all students have the same ability to pursue opportunities as stated in our recent GED communications, “One message should be heard loud and clear; all people, no matter their background must be afforded equal dignity. Any and all forms of racism, injustice, and violence are intolerable and must be condemned.” I wish you all the best in your upcoming retirement.
Dear Ms. Greene,
I am also disappointed in the media bias, political agenda, and lack of research done on the Black Lives Matter organization that your letter has shown. I, too, am a white woman and teacher, but I believe the “white privilege” statement to be a lie and a myth that conveniently surfaced (again) in an election year to get black Americans riled up against the current administration. Personally, I found the “white privilege” statement to be offensive because my first husband was a black man who had the same two black parents all his life; his father held the same job with the USPS for over 40 years which allowed his parents to send him and his brother to parochial school, and they lived in the same predominantly white neighborhood in Dallas all of my husband’s life. I, on the other hand, had parents who divorced and remarried several times, moved around a lot, and my mom had no high school diploma. White privilege? You have no idea how hard I worked to graduate from high school, and it took me 16 years to get my Bachelor’s Degree.
I also resent that every few seconds this blog makes me prove that “I am not a robot”. Shame on you, GED!
Andi, thank you for taking the time to read, respond and provide your opinion. I know the topic of systemic racism is a very personal topic and I appreciate and value what you and your family have gone through and how hard each of you worked to get to where you are today. My hope is you recognize our goal is; all people, no matter their background must be afforded equal dignity. I wish you and your family all the best.