It becomes more apparent every day that a quality educational system is essential to the quality of life to our residents, and to the future economic development of our region.
If we want existing businesses to stay and grow here—and new businesses to locate here—we must be able to provide a competent education workforce.
For those companies bringing new employees to the area, a quality educational system is a key quality of life factor in helping to entice relocation.
Recognizing the importance of these factors, the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, with the assistance of donations from local businesses, formed a task force on education and hired a consultant.
The consulting firm, North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, will provide data and analysis about schools within the Peoria area and provide research and models of educational reform that would be appropriate—based on needs and implementation structures, a best-practices-elsewhere sort of approach tailored specifically to our region.
The task force, chaired by John Sahn, immediate past chairman of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, consists of an impressive group of local educators, business people and elected officials who can bring a wide range of experience to the table.
Within six months, the task force will present to the Chamber its recommendations for achieving its vision:
"The greater Peoria area in 2005 shall have quality education systems that provide a qualified workforce for local employers and attract economic development. All students, regardless of where they reside, shall have access to the educational opportunities that help them realize their academic potential."
When our community has high schools with high drop out rates, schools on the state watch list, graduates who are unqualified to accept positions at area businesses, and schools that parents relocate their families to avoid, we, as a community, need to support any positive efforts that may improve our educational system.
While there is much good in our local educational system, there is much room for improvement; the task force efforts are a beginning to achieve the vision.