"The number of adults
with less than a ninth-grade education has increased by 7 percent
since 2004," said Guy Alongi, chairman of the Illinois Community
College Board, citing figures from the 2008 U.S. Census. "This is an
incredible jump and a tremendous expense to the Illinois taxpayers."
But Alongi says there is also a solution: Through the general
education development program offered through Illinois community
colleges, there is a way for these adults to earn the equivalency of
a high school diploma.
"The Illinois Community College Board is making a concerted
effort to promote the GED program and reach out to individuals who
do not have a high school diploma," Alongi announced.
In all, more than 1.8 million of Illinois' 10 million adults have
less than 12 grades of formal education. Included in this number are
close to 731,000 people with less than a ninth-grade education.
The ICCB's announcement follows a recent study that outlined the
fiscal burden Illinois taxpayers bear for those with less than a
high school diploma. According to the study, released by the Center
for Labor Market Studies at Boston's Northeastern University, each
high school dropout costs Illinois $221,000 over the course of their
"This is a cost that is increasing, not declining," said Dr.
Karen Hunter Anderson, vice president for adult education and
instructional support at the ICCB. "Illinois taxpayers should find
Anderson reported that 15,734 individuals in Illinois earned a
GED in 2008, giving these individuals the opportunity to further
employment, training and postsecondary education. But, Anderson
noted, in comparison with the problem, there is still much to do.
For instance, the Shawnee Community College District alone --
made up of Union, Pulaski, Alexander, Massac, and a portion of
Jackson and Johnson counties -- has 15,751 adults 16 years of age
and older who are not currently enrolled in high school and listed
as earning less than those with a high school diploma.
"I agree with the ICCB; it is evident that we must do more to
reach out to those who do not have a high school diploma and
encourage those who are in school to finish," said James Darden, the
college's dean of adult education.
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Shawnee Community College is moving to expand GED programming from
two nights per week to four nights and is making the alternative
high school program an option for at-risk students.
Anderson said that given the knowledge and skills necessary to
compete in today's society, adult education services are needed now
more than ever. Besides the number of individuals in Illinois who
have not earned a high school diploma or GED, Anderson outlined
other issues proving that there is a critical need for adult
education in Illinois:
million Illinois residents speak a language other than English
as the primary language in their home. English literacy skills
for entry and advancement in the labor force are needed by many
of these residents.
Almost 644,000 immigrants are currently
residing in Illinois. Many of these individuals need English
literacy and civics education to participate more fully in
education and the work force and to obtain citizenship.
"If something isn't done now to curb these problems, the cost to
Illinois taxpayers is only going to escalate," Anderson said. "We
can't reach everyone overnight, but should work at a pace that
allows for these numbers to decrease instead of increase."
For more information, contact Anderson at the Illinois Community
College Board by phoning 217-785-0086.
College Board file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]