Thursday, September 23, 2021

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States are poised to help resettle Afghan evacuees who fled their home country after the U.S. military exit; efforts emerge to help Native Americans gain more clean energy independence.

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Sen. Mitch McConnell refuses to support raising the debt ceiling; Biden administration pledges $500 million of COVID vaccine doses globally; and U.S. military says it's taking steps to combat sexual assault.

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A new Oklahoma museum honors tribal nations, while Iowa's history is back on the blacktop; mixed news on COVID-19 comes with a warning about unconventional drugs; and electric cars and buses are coming to rural America.

Biden Visit to IL Highlights Investments in Community Colleges

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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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