February 10, 2011
By Anna Yee
Community College executives are applauding Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon, (D) IL, for getting the state back into school mode.
Simon is calling for all Illinois junior colleges to increase their number of graduates, from 41% to 60% by 2025.
She says nearly two-thirds of future jobs will require some degree of college education, so it's important to prepare our workforce now.
"Illinois is going to do our part to make sure that we're leaders," said Lt. Gov. Simon, "That we're getting back up to a percentage that's going to make us competitive in the world again."
To do that, schools like Heartland Community College in Normal are starting young.
"Heartland has begun a comprehensive initiative with, for example, our K-12 partners and really reaching out, partnering, and helping students develop a very strong plan for their success," said Dr. Allen Goben, Heartland Community College President.
For the Lieutenant Governor, education is something that hits home.
Her father was a former Senator and college professor. Her husband currently teaches at a junior college, and she taught law at Southern Illinois University.
Lieutenant Governor Simon is making this new college completion goal even more personal.
Starting next week, she will begin a tour to visit all 48 community colleges in Illinois.
Simon says she wants not just Illinois, but the United States to boost its college completion level.
Right now, the U.S. is ranked 12th in the world for college grads.
Education improvement ranks #1 on her "to do" list as recently-elected Lieutenant Governor.
"I haven't been Lieutenant Governor very long, and this is really important stuff," said Simon. "This is one of the first things I want to do here, and I'm excited about that."