To power Purple Binder.com, we’re assembling a directory of every social service in Chicago.
We’re also going to use this data to shed light on our city’s social safety net, and to dig into the issues facing our communities.
To kick things off, let’s take a closer look at adult education.
Chicago’s public radio station (WBEZ) recently highlighted the lack of GED programs in Chicago’s South and West Sides, where the need for adult education is greatest.
Why do these neighborhoods have the highest need?
Because they face widespread poverty, high unemployment, and dismal high school graduation rates.
And these social ills are all connected. Poverty is rooted in joblessness. In today’s economy, high school dropouts have a brutal time landing good jobs.
So one way to tackle poverty is to equip people for work. That’s the idea behind adult education.
According to WBEZ, however, there just aren’t enough GED programs in Chicago’s disadvantaged neighborhoods:
[The problem] spreads across the far South and West Sides.
“We are seeing high needs areas around Lawndale, Pilsen, Back of the Yards, with just a few programs in those areas. And more programs on the Northside, where there is less need,” Raymond said.
We were curious to see if this was true.
So we decided to map all the GED programs we know about, and see whether they match up with high-poverty neighborhoods.(Please note that we haven't gathered every adult education service in Chicago yet. We're probably missing a few.)
The green dots are GED programs. Underneath them are Chicago’s 77 community areas. The more shaded they are on the map, the poorer they are.
You can click on the programs and community areas to learn more about them.
Poverty Rate:Source: Purple Binder, 2009 American Community Survey
As it turns out, the West Side actually has a decent number of GED programs. The glaring exceptions are East Garfield Park and North Lawndale, two of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.
The South Side, on the other hand, is nearly devoid of adult ed. Englewood is the only neighborhood with multiple programs.
In fact, it’s easier to get a GED in Lakeview—one of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods—than in Washington Park, which has a poverty rate of 52%.
Looks like we do indeed have an adult ed gap.
By our count, there are over 150,000 low-income Chicagoans living in neighborhoods without GED programs.
That means one out of every four poor folks in Chicago are cut off from the education they need to climb their way out of poverty.
Policymakers, take note.comments powered by Disqus
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