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Alexi Giannoulias to chair Illinois Community College Board

Posted by Admin On August - 18 - 2011

Alexi Giannoulias has been appointed by Governor Quinn to chair the Illinois Community College Board.  The Illinois Community College system is the 3rd largest in the country, with 48 community colleges serving nearly one million students annually.  Nearly 64 percent of Illinois students enrolled in public higher education in Illinois attend community colleges, with completions hitting a record high in fiscal year 2010. Illinois community colleges awarded a total of 56,884 degrees and certificates last fiscal year, up 14 percent since 2006, according to a recent ICCB report.

Throughout his term as State Treasurer and during his campaign for the US Senate, Alexi has always said that the greatest investment we could make is in education.  He has focused his efforts on increased funding for early childhood education, reforming our public school system and working with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to make sure our Community Colleges are the best in the world.  As he’s always said, “we need to educate our way to a stronger economy.”

 “Community colleges play a vital role in creating the workforce of the 21st century by providing economical, flexible and effective training degrees,” Giannoulias said. “And since putting Americans back to work is the single greatest challenge facing our country, a well-trained, well-educated workforce is absolutely crucial to America’s future. To ensure that every young adult has the tools for gainful employment, our community college system must help students graduate with a meaningful degree that will enable them to find a job.”

 U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a strong proponent of community colleges, has supported efforts to develop and improve programs designed to prepare community college students for successful careers in emerging industries.  

“I want to commend Governor Quinn for choosing Alexi Giannoulias for this critically important job,” Duncan said. “Alexi is a passionate believer in public education and I’m confident that his leadership will help the community colleges of Illinois do a better job of preparing young people to compete in the global economy.”



Alexi sets agenda with op-ed

Here is an early preview of an op-ed set to publish next week that Alexi wrote sharing his views on the future of the Illinois community college system:



If we are serious about dealing with the grave economic challenges facing this nation, the most important long-term investment we can make is in education. 

 But there is much work to be done.  In order for us to improve our Community Colleges we must be innovative and aggressive, by:However, the benefits of improving Illinois’ 48 Community Colleges will accrue not only to these students, but also to Illinois businesses in the form of higher earnings, and to state and local governments in the form of increased tax revenue.  Nine out of ten Illinois Community College graduates live, work, raise their families and pay taxes in Illinois.Illinois’ Community Colleges account for nearly two-thirds (63.9%) of all students enrolled in public higher education.  Our Community Colleges offer training in over 300 different careers/occupations and overall they train, educate and enhance the lives of almost one million students each year.  Students who complete their Illinois Community College education attain a double-digit percentage increase in earnings over their pre-enrollment wages. We must do everything we can to strengthen our Community Colleges here in Illinois.  It is a moral and financial imperative.Community Colleges here in Illinois and across the country play a vital role in creating the workforce of the 21st century by providing effective, less expensive, and more flexible vocational and job training certificates and degrees.  They are also a bridge for many students to an associate degree at a four-year institution.   Of all postsecondary sectors, community colleges enroll by far the highest proportion of low-income youth and the highest proportion of minority groups, who have the most difficult time finding career opportunities.  Reversing the growing income inequality in America is among the most important tasks facing our nation.Other countries understand this and are making the proper investments in job training and education.  For example, in Germany, over 90% of large companies participate in vocational training programs that start when students are 14 or 15 years old.  This helps them achieve long-term employment after graduation and has made Germany one of the strongest economies in the world. The ability of the U.S. to compete in the global marketplace in the 21st century and beyond will depend on our ability to better educate our citizens.  Studies show that over 60% of all new jobs in the next decade will require a postsecondary certificate or degree.  The best jobs and fastest growing firms, whether in technology, engineering, bioscience, trade or manufacturing will gravitate to communities with a highly educated workforce.And since putting Americans back to work is the greatest single challenge facing our country, a well-trained, well-educated workforce is absolutely crucial to America’s economic future.


-          Building better networks with Community College alumni,

-          Making sure each College has the necessary resources to succeed,

-          Leveraging technology to help create the jobs of the future,

-          Improving retention rates  (this will be done by shifting the focus from student enrollment to student completion),

-          Creating opportunities for high school and adult education students to earn college credit,

-          Providing flexible curriculum to correctly align with the career needs of each community, and

-          Matching courses to the needs of local businesses by creating a Business Advisory Council for each College.

The business community’s role in this effort is absolutely critical.  There needs to be a stronger relationship and better dialogue between the private sector and our community colleges.  The colleges should be asking businesses where the jobs are and what they’re looking for, and in turn, business leaders can help craft courses and build a curriculum around those jobs immediately. 

The strength of America’s Community Colleges will determine our standing around the world.  We have to invest heavily and ambitiously in our Community College system and with a strong sense of urgency.  This is crucial not only for our economic future and for job growth going forward, but because a quality education has always been the hallmark of a better life, a happier existence and a stronger nation.  As the American philosopher John Dewey once said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself”. 

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