Here at FCI Petersburg the Education Department offers several programming opportunities. These include GED classes, English-as-a-Second Language classes, and Adult Continuing Education (ACE) courses. With the exception of the GED program, none of these programs offer outside recognition of course completion. None of the courses — outside of the GED program — are accredited or recognized as formal educational endeavors.
I’m all for learning for learning’s sake. As a matter of fact, I’m not only on the testing crew for the new self-paced ACE program here at FCI Petersburg, but I even take a different traditional ACE course each quarter. I do this because I enjoy taking classes and find it helpful to analyze other teachers’ methods of instruction. I feel that both my own knowledge base and teaching skills can be enhanced through these courses. This is regardless of program accreditation. Though I would certainly be interested in a program which I could add to a resume; something to help my employment prospects upon release. Sadly, a Federal Bureau of Prisons’ educational certificate is not going to do the trick.
Prisoners as a whole are an under-educated class. When they attend classes on resume writing or job interviews, they are at a loss for what to do with a resume and what to tell an employer. This is because many only have a GED; not even a real high school diploma. Some lack even a GED. Something needs to be done about this. If a prisoner is at a loss for how to explain their lack of an adequate work or educational history while in a classroom setting, which is designed to prepare them for job interviews, then the actual interviews will almost certainly be total failures. As correctional educators, we should not accept this. We should strive to prepare our students for success, not probable failure. In my mind, when my students fail, it is really me failing them since it was they who put their trust in me to prepare them for success.
By George Hook
The BOP Central Office Division of Industries, Education, and Vocational Training has published an Occupational Training Programs Directory which sets forth its program offerings to federal prisoners in the Advanced Occupational Training category. The stated purpose of these programs is to afford prisoners interested in furthering their employability upon release the opportunity to do so by enrolling in the various vocational courses offered. Included are exploratory, marketable skill, and apprenticeship level courses. According to that Directory, 81 more or less distinct courses in the Advanced Occupational Training category are offered. These Advanced Occupational Training courses range in duration from two days to 48 months. The typical duration is 12 months.
The courses offered in the Advanced Occupational Training category are Accounting Operations, Administrative Assistant, Advanced Computer Applications, Advanced Diesel Engine Repair, Alcohol Substance Abuse Studies, Animal Husbandry, Aquaculture, Automotive Diagnostics Repair, AutoCAD, Automated Computer Aided Design and Drafting, Basic Baking, Basic Computer Applications, Basic Computer Repair and Refurbishing, Basic Computer Skills, Basic Custodial Maintenance, Basic Diesel Engine Repair, Bookkeeping and Clerical Studies, Business Foundations, Building Maintenance—Electrical, Business Management and Law, Business Supervision and Management, Building Trades, Business Accounting, Automotive Service, Bookbinding, Business Administration, Business and Information Processing, Business Leadership, Business Technology, Canine Trainer, Computer Applications, Computer Business Education, Commercial Drivers License, Computerized Engraving, Computer Refurbishing—Hardware, Computer Refurbishing—Software, Construction Technology, Consumer Electronic Repair, Copy Repair, Cosmetology,