NY State alliance designed to close gaps in prison education system

For anyone imprisoned, the possibility of a transfer can be very disruptive emotionally; after spending years in the same facility you become accustomed to the same faces and routines. But the impact can be far more serious when an individual is in the process of completing an education program when it happens. A student may

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University of the People Is Accredited, Just Not As You Might Think

By Christopher Zoukis /

On February 14, 2014 the New York Times ran a story about a very promising initiative called the University of the People. This young online school, founded just four years ago, offers courses to disadvantaged and underserved groups mostly for free (application costs run $0 to $50 and examination costs are $100). The University of the People has 700 students from 142 countries currently taking classes. Some 25 percent are from the United States and 30 percent are from Africa.

While there are several popular online courseware platforms currently in existence – think of edX and Coursera – University of the People is different. Classes often consist of 20 to 30 students and run for ten weeks. Quizzes and homework assignments are expected of all students, regardless of the diverse range of countries where they might reside. While a reported 3,000 professors have volunteered, only 100 have actually been used in either courseware development or instruction. Current degree offerings include degrees in computer science and business administration.

The idea behind such an initiative is that there is a way to offer free – or very low-cost – high quality education to students anywhere in the world, all through a central course delivery system. Programs like the University of the People manage to do so through open courseware which often relies heavily on textual content. This is an essential component of any such global program due to the lack of broadband internet access in African countries, a major geographic focus of such educational initiatives.

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Distance Learning: Moody Bible Institute



Independent Study was the first mode of distance education provided by Moody Bible Institute, beginning in 1901. Independent Study courses allow you to take undergraduate courses on your own time and at your own pace through print correspondence. 

Independent Study courses do not operate on the traditional semester format – Register for courses at any time. Students have six months to work through the course material and successfully complete a course. Students may choose to enroll in a single course or participate in several courses at one time.

Earn College Credit or Work Toward Your DegreePhoto courtesy

Moody Distance Learning offers Independent Study undergraduate courses in Bible, theology, ministry and general education for college credit.

You can take Independent Study courses to earn college credit and accelerate you towards a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies degree, an Associate of Biblical Studies degree or a Certificate of Biblical Studies

Independent Study courses are also available to non-degree seeking students, visiting students from other universities, and 11th and 12th grade students.


These courses are available through Independent Study for undergraduate college credit. All listed courses are available in Independent Study print correspondence format. 

To find corresponding textbooks for each course, go to Undergraduate Required Textbooks.

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Accreditation Scams

By Garry W. Johnson

A reporter visited the websites of the high school’s accreditation agencies, the In­ternational Accrediting Agency for Online Universities and the Universal Council for Online Education Accreditation, and found they provided no address, names of staff, or listing of schools they certify.  Image courtesy

Employees of Belford refused to give straight forward answers when a reporter called and asked why the accrediting agen­cies had such vague websites. When the re­porter mentioned that the agencies weren’t listed in the U.S. Department of Education’s database, the employee respon­ded – correctly, but irrelevantly – that the education department doesn’t accredit schools. Then he hung up. The reporter also called the accrediting agencies twice, but no one answered.

Post-Secondary Education Accreditation

Unlike bogus GED programs, college legit­imacy is a little harder to nail down, espe­cially in the United States. In other nations most colleges and universities are operated by the government, just as the public school system is here. But colleges in the U.S. are private (like diploma mills) or state facilities, and the federal government does not have a body of experts who in­vestigate and approve individual schools. In fact, accreditation in this country is en­tirely a voluntary process. The government does not commission accrediting agencies; they are essentially private firms made up of experts for investigating and deeming worthy schools that are willing to be ac­credited. This lack of central supervision has led to there being good accreditation and bad accreditation.

Take for example an accrediting agency that calls itself the Accrediting Commission for Specialized Colleges. This agency ac­credits, among others, a school named Indi­ana Northern Graduate School. The name sounds impressive, but investigators found the school to be nothing more than a dairy farm in Gas City. The accrediting agency will accredit anyone willing to mail them a check for $110.

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The Quest For An Education

Jon Antonucci

After being incarcerated for over 2 years now, I have come to the undeniable conclusion that obtaining an education while in prison is hard! Despite the general public’s perception that prisoners are being rehabilitated while in the system, in reality, rehabilitation through higher learning is hard to come by. Granted, many prisons require their inmates to pass a “mandatory literacy” examination, and some even require the completion of a GED. But for the most part, the educational train stops there and all inmates must get off. Those who desire to improve themselves through higher learning find that they must fight an uphill battle to receive any sort of accredited education.  Image courtesy

For those who are willing to fight that uphill battle, here are a couple of tips to help you be effective in your quest for education.

1) Be aware of non-accredited schools. There are many “career colleges” and “correspondence learning schools” that are more than happy to take your money; and usually, for very little work, will award you an Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or even Ph.D. (depending upon how much you pay them). But, their diplomas aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Sadly, many “Bible colleges” are a part of this scam. Before investing your time or money into a school, check their accreditation. If they can’t produce legitimate accreditations, such as regional accreditation, then you may want to reconsider enrollment.

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The Need for Program Accreditation

By Christopher Zoukis

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.  Image courtesy

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.

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Prison Education: The Correspondence Method

By Christopher Zoukis

In prisons across the country a GED is typically the highest level of academic achievement that is facilitated by the prison administration. The administration’s focus, in terms of education, is almost exclusively upon how fast they can funnel their prison’s population through their GED programs. It’s a never-ending cycle that ends with each prisoner earning a GED and starts over with the next prisoner who has yet to earn one. While a good first step, it dooms many to failure. It does so by starting the prisoner on an academic tract, but stopping them upon attainment of the GED.

The single-minded focus of GED attainment creates a void for prison systems nationwide. This void is education above-and-beyond the GED. Some prisons offer Adult Basic Education or Adult Continuing Education (of which I am an instructor) courses, but rarely do any offer educational programs at the career or university level. This level of study, the credentialing level, is desperately needed by each and every prisoner because studies at this level translate directly into lower recidivism rates and jobs upon release.

For the prisoner who desires to advance their education above the level of studies offered by their prison

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