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Future uncertain for program to help people get a diploma

May 29, 2012 3:13:20 PM PDT
New York students who don't pass their Regents exams, there is a way they can still get their diploma.

It's a unique program, but it could be facing an uncertain future.

Kathy Ortiz graduated from South Brooklyn Community High School last year. She is part of the last class of general education students in New York State, allowed to graduate with a so called "local diploma."

We're asking the state to keep the local diploma as an option until they put into place new pathways to graduation," Gisela Alvarez , senior project director, said.

Alvarez and the not-for-profit advocates for children have joined a coalition, pushing for state legislation that would extend the deadline for ending the local diploma.

Based on past figures for Local Diplomas, advocates estimate that there are 14-thousand high school seniors across New York State who will not graduate this spring because they did not qualify for Regents Diplomas.

"I'm not willing to think that 14-thousand kids are collateral damage," parent and advocate Roberta Grogan said.

Grogan and other coalition members say they understand the need to raise academic standards. A Regents diploma requires passing a series of exams, but advocates fear for students unprepared to pass.

"I think they go on the public rolls. I think that they become recipients of public assistance," Grogan said.

Students are given more than one chance to pass the Regents, but predictions suggest many will give up and drop out.

"They won't have a way to get into the military, go into higher education, even with remedial courses, they won't qualify for many jobs," Alvarez said.

Students at so-called transfer schools, like South Brooklyn Community, often got local diplomas.

"So we have to care about them just as much as the student who is graduating on time in 4 years and, you know, the Regents is not an issue for them," Gloria Rosario, transfer school principal, said.

Advocates are hoping for legislative action before the new school year.

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