CHICAGO — Jeremy Flowers dropped out of high school in 1977 when he was 18 years old in order to get a job and help support his family.
“It was always my intent to go back and get my GED, but I never did,” recalled Flowers, 53, who is unemployed.
But earlier this week, City Colleges of Chicago said it had made it much easier for potential students like Flowers to go back to school.
The school announced that it had opened 24 additional adult education locations where students can get free GED and other courses as part of its Reinvention Initiative program. In addition, the school plans on opening six more.
The new sites include one at the Liberation Christian Center at 6810 S. Ashland Ave. in Englewood, where Flowers lives with his wife.
“It is something I still would like to get,” said Flowers, who has five grown children. “This way when my grandkids start messing up in high school I can tell them about my struggles and how it’s never too late to go back to school.”
City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman said in a written statement that “by expanding our adult education offerings in previously underserved neighborhoods, City Colleges is addressing a profound need and is expanding opportunities for countless more Chicagoans to pursue a path to college and career.”
According to Jeremy Gantz, a spokesman for City Colleges, 16 locations opened last fall and eight have opened since January for a total of 64 sites. Previously, there were 51 sites but “11 of these were closed because they did not align with community needs or did not meet our facilities standards,” added Gantz.
Enrollment in its adult education classes, which also includes English and Adult Basic Education courses, has spiked since 2008, Gantz said.
Gantz said there are 18,925 students enrolled in adult education courses this semester. Last year, about 35,000 students out of 117,000 total took adult education courses over two semesters.
Access to education is vital to a person’s long-term survival, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in the statement.
“Learning is a life-long pursuit and it is incumbent upon us to ensure Chicagoans have access to quality education programs that supports their success, from pre-k to college and beyond,” Emanuel said.