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LA Public Library hopes to help high school dropouts earn their diplomas

LA HCM #46
LA HCM #46
Cathy Cole/flickr Creative Commons

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The library is a place to check out books, rent DVDs for free and surf the web. Now the library is also a place to get a high school diploma.

Last week, the LA Public Library announced a new program to help high school drop outs earn their diploma through online classes and academic assessments. For free.

"It isn't a GED, it's an actual high school diploma, and what I think is the public library again embracing its role of life long learning," said John Szabo, city librarian for L.A. "We really want individuals who enter enrollment to be the most likely to be able to actually get that diploma."

The pilot program will begin with 150 slots at a cost of $150,000 to the library. Prospective students can sign up on the library's website, complete an assessment tool and enter enrollment. 

Once enrolled, students will be matched with an online academic coach who will pull transcripts and explain what courses need to be taken for completion. 

"It's a fairly rigorous academic program, there is testing and assessment along the way," said Szabo. "As they go through each course, they'll complete it, earn that credit, then move on to the next one that they need until they are able to get the diploma."

Those who are not admitted into the first run of the program will be connected with recourses to earn a GED or other opportunities. Szabo says he hopes the program will also help educate people on the various workforce services the library offers. 

"I think of the public library, in addition to being an information organization, a learning organization, we're absolutely an arts organization, I think we're a workforce development organization," said Szabo. "A GED is wonderful and I think it's a very powerful tool, this is an accredited diploma, which I think does have a great deal of strength in the work fo