CHICAGO – A champion of education, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today urged fellow lieutenant governors to make high school graduation and college degree completion a higher priority in their states.
Simon’s resolution before the National Lieutenant Governors Association’s conference in Chicago asks member states to collaborate with school districts, employers, and institutions of higher education to ensure that high school graduation rates increase and students are better prepared to enroll in college or enter the workforce.
Simon, the NLGA’s Midwest Region Chair, serves as Governor Quinn’s point person on education reform and is leading the charge to increase the proportion of the Illinois’ working-age population holding a college degree or certificate to 60 percent by 2025. The 50th anniversary conference event includes 30 “seconds in command” from around the country and is expected to generate $600,000 in hotel, transportation, restaurant and tourism revenue.
“Nationwide, we see a trend of high school seniors either not graduating in four years with their class, or graduating unprepared for college- or career-level work,” Simon said. “This resolution aims to open a dialogue within and between states on how we can boost high school achievement, degree completion and competitiveness in the workforce.”
This resolution is an extension of Simon’s educational work in Illinois. This spring, Simon moved legislation through the General Assembly that will require the state Board of Education to create math curriculum models for middle and high school students. The optional statewide curricula aims to better prepare high school graduates for college or a career – by reducing the need for costly remedial classes, or making students more employable for in-demand manufacturing jobs.
According to Complete College America, in the next decade more than 60 percent of all new jobs will require an advanced degree or credential, though the higher education attainment rate of adults in the United States is currently 38 percent. In order to meet that gap, 22 million students nationwide need to earn a post-secondary degree or certificate over the coming decade.
“Our states and country can only remain competitive in the global marketplace if we anticipate its needs now,” Simon said. “By strengthening our middle and high school curriculums now, we will help put our students on a path of achievement and success.”
To bring a policy item before the NLGA, a resolution must be co-sponsored by two lieutenant governors, one from each political party. Six additional resolutions will be considered today, including one on Alzheimer’s treatment and prevention, and one on broadband internet development. The lieutenant governors will take a final vote on all resolutions on Friday. Today serves as a review period before the executive committee where lieutenant governors can ask questions of the sponsors and suggest changes to the resolution.
The NLGA is a bipartisan, nonprofit, professional organization for elected officials who are first in line of succession to the governors in the United States and five territorial jurisdictions. The NLGA’s inaugural meeting was held in Chicago in 1962 and has returned this summer to celebrate its 50th anniversary.