Improving GED Attainment

In my earlier post Improving GED Attainment I mentioned an upcoming meeting with community leaders that would begin to develop action plans to reduce the high level of non-GED individuals in the Winnebago/Boone counties; presently numbering 35, 000.  Additionally, 500 students drop out of high school each year. Various data were presented that included an “Education Pays” chart.  Someone with less than a high school diploma has an unemployment rate of 14.9% and earns $444 per week; compare this with a high school diploma and unemployment rate of 10.3% and earnings of $626 per week.  It gets better wit more education; a bachelors degree has unemployment rate of 5.4% and $1,038 weekly earnings.  The conclusion is obvious. What surprised me were the number of GED programs that Rock Valley College offers for adults, youth and Winnebago County inmates.  Another surprise was the cost to attend classes to prepare for the GED test was free to the students.  The length of time to complete the training for the 6 part exam is dependent on the student but the average time is one year.  Classes are offered in 15 sites around the region. The 2011 school year graduated 344 from these programs. The attendees at this conference came from diverse backgrounds in the community.  As Janyce Fadden said: “the world is working today in a networked, collaborative way”.  Citing that one  company made the movie Wizard of Oz in 1939; the recent Spider Man had 56 companies collaborating in its production, while the iPhone has 200 manufacturers making it.  Our task, working as “we” was to generate ideas to reduce the number of non-GED graduates. Six groups addressed the questions What could we do and What will we do.  Across the groups one common theme evolved; increasing awareness of the importance for GED’s and graduation from high school. Getting mentors for high risk students, identifying “fast track” students, tracking dropouts to get them into a GED program, reducing government enabling policies, breaking the cycle of “learned helplessness”, making the GED process faster, engaging parents in the process and many other ideas were brought forward.  A GED fair was also proposed that would bring together all the GED providers, support services and a career pathways element. What next? The Workforce Investment Board staff will take all these ideas, develop follow-up action items  and re-engage the community again within 90 days. Maybe we are on the track of improving the education level of the region!...

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Sad Day for Rockford Booklovers

I had hopes that the Rockford Border’s would somehow survive liquidation.  There was talks with Books-a-Million that possibly 30 or so would be acquired by them.  But sadly, this morning, the e-mail came from Border’s: “All Border’s Stores Closing, all items on Sale”. I called the Rockford store and the person said “yes, we are closing here too”. Yes, I know; the internet is taking sales of many items from the box stores.  I have bought many books via internet, downloaded music or TV shows via internet.  But I, like I am sure many others, always felt a special place like Border’s where you could come in, browse the books and magazines, take a look at CD or DVD labels, buy a cup of coffee and flip through a pile of magazines.  Even hopping onto the free WiFi to check e-mails.Buying decisions were made with a “touch and feel” experience. Sure, it was cheaper to buy on the internet.  If you used Amazon, you’d get free shipping for purchases over $25.  Yet, every time I would visit Border’s, it always had many shoppers browsing, drinking coffee, surfing the net and standing in line waiting to check out their purchases. I hate to admit, but the other big bookseller didn’t appeal to me as much after they required Gloria’s Coffee shop to leave the mall so they could relocate there with a bigger store. Am I resigned to buy my books, music and odds and ends from the impersonal internet?  Or do I succumb to the other guys and do what I can to support them to hopefully avoid the same fate as Border’s? But first, I’m going to Border’s, load up on their sale items and tell them they did a great...

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U of I Trustees to Vote on Closing Aviation Program

I had heard about this several months ago and now it is to be voted upon today.  This can be a big boost to our efforts of landing Embry-Riddle here to Rockford. The story of the closing aviation program is reported in today’s Chicago Tribune.

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My Favorite Rockford Store!

Just in from the WSJ: “Start writing the corporate obituaries. Absent a last-minute reprieve, bookstore chain Borders will be no more. (READ a history of the book retailer, which Tom and Louis Borders founded in 1971 as a Michigan used book shop.) Borders filed for bankruptcy protection in February, and has been beating the bushes looking for a white knight. But today Borders said it received no formal proposals to buy the company out of bankruptcy protection. That means Borders will ask a judge to approve a sale of the company to firms that specialize in taking apart companies and selling them for scrap. Borders said going-out-of-business sales at its remaining 400 stores may start as soon as Friday. The wind down of Borders should be done by the end of September, Borders said. The company has nearly 11,000 employees”. And the Rockford store is one of the...

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Borders on Brink of Liquidation

This story appears in today’s WSJ; here are some excerpts: “Borders Group Inc. stood on the brink of liquidation after a recent offer for the bookstore chain from a private-equity investor fell apart late Wednesday. Borders, which employs nearly 11,000 people, designated a group of liquidators as the opening bidders in a looming bankruptcy-court auction amid difficulties getting publishers to relax terms under which they ship merchandise to the U.S.’s second-largest bookstore chain, said people familiar with the matter. The development raises the prospect that Borders will soon close all its remaining 399 stores and go out of business. No other suitors have so far emerged for Borders ahead of a Sunday bidding deadline”. I know that the Rockford store is one of the better ones in their system and a valuable local store, it’s always busy. It would be a shame if it...

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