Biden Visit to IL Highlights Investments in Community Colleges
Thursday, July 8, 2021
CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. - President Joe Biden visited McHenry County Community College in Crystal Lake yesterday to promote his economic proposals - for infrastructure such as buildings, roads and bridges, as well as human infrastructure such as child care and paid family and medical leave.
For community colleges, the plans provide funds for technology and infrastructure updates, expanded opportunities for workforce development and even two years of free community-college tuition for anyone.
Jim Reed, executive director of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association, said these investments are key as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 economic crisis, and as jobs change with automation.
"If we can provide high-quality training and education at our community colleges and then make that accessible to those people that live in more rural environments and people of color," said Reed, "I think that this is going to be a real advantage for us."
Biden won the 14th Congressional District - which includes Crystal Lake - by just 2% in 2020. And the Democratic representative there, Rep. Lauren Underwood - D-Naperville - also narrowly won re-election.
Biden's visit follows similar appeals to residents of swing districts in Wisconsin and Michigan last week.
Reed added that in addition to the federal proposals, he'd like to see Illinois allow community colleges to offer baccalaureate-level early-childhood education programs.
The state is facing a teacher shortage, and Reed said having that option at local community colleges would make a big difference for local workforces - especially in rural areas.
"For students that live in some of our remote areas," said Reed, "the idea of going to Western Illinois, or to the University of Illinois, is just not something that they can do when they're trying to balance their family needs, when they're trying to balance their local work needs. "
Negotiations are ongoing in Congress.
Reed added that expanding access to affordable child care is another crucial piece of the Biden proposals - he said one reason many people are struggling to return to work is that their child-care needs aren't being met.
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