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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Hard work and a TASC waiver help members get diploma

Photo courtesy of M. Quinones
Paraprofessional Ramos Quinones benefited from the TASC courses the union’s Ed Fund offered.

DC 37 members can apply for the
Adult Education HSE Prep Program offered virtually by LaGuardia Community College and Hostos Community College:
Hostos HSE:
LaGuardia HSE:

DC 37 members who need to pass three or more subtests can register for HSE classes at the DC 37 Ed Fund:
TASC Writing portion:
Math portion:
For more information, please contact the Ed Fund at 212.815.1700 or email


It came in the mail.

“I opened the envelope and had the biggest smile on my face,” said Dolores Jones. “I was so proud, I called my son and said, ‘I did it. I finally got it!’”

The document that took Jones, who retired in 2014, some 37 years to finally hold in her hands is her High School Equivalency Diploma.

Margarita Ramos Quinones took HSE classes at DC 37 for 17 years. She was the first DC 37 member to take the TASC test online and pass.

“My diploma was key to qualifying for a higher paying job as a DOE Substitute Paraprofessional and Spanish Language Interpreter,” said the former Local 372 school aide.

“Both women had family responsibilities and jobs. Both were determined to get their HSE diploma. It was clearly a life goal,” said DC 37 Education Fund Assistant Director Patty Punch. “And they got their HSE diplomas with help from their union after applying for a TACS waiver.”

The TASC test, the Test Assessing Secondary Completion, replaces the GED exam for the High School Equivalency Diploma. A special TASC test waiver that students can apply for is in effect through June 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These and dozens more DC 37 members have benefited from the free TASC courses DC 37 offers. The waiver is removing obstacles and helping many members reach their goals,” said Punch.

Ramos Quinones has a child with special needs and would sometimes leave classes mid-term to care for him. Determined to finish, she repeated those classes. While a Local 372 member, she also took Spanish classes through the Ed Fund to improve her language and writing skills.

After getting her HSE and new job, Ramos Quinones wrote a letter thanking a dozen Ed Fund teachers and staff who helped her personally and “were in my life during the 17 years that I attended DC 37 Ed Fund classes. These teachers never gave up on me.”

“The smaller TASC classes really helped me learn. The program was a success for me and it will be for other people, too,” wrote Ramos Quinones, who is now enrolled in college online.

Jones took HSE courses at DC 37 since the 1980s while working as a Local 372 school aide in Beach Channel High School’s Nurses Office. She was separated from her husband and raising two sons alone.

“I’d bring my young sons with me to school at DC 37 on Saturdays. I was determined to be an example to them. I had to break the cycle. I hung inspirational sayings all around me to stay motivated,” Jones said. “It took time but I got my HSE diploma. I also saw to it that my sons graduated from high school and completed college. Even in this pandemic, people can go online, take the TASC courses, and get their diploma. It’s never too late. You can do it!”

“These experiences underscore the difference belonging to a union makes in members’ lives,” said Local 372 President Shaun D. Francois I.