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A Publication of WTVP

The Youth, Education and Learning Community Council has been actively involved in recruiting members and initiating implementation related to the strategies, goals, and objectives outlined in the Greater Peoria Vision 2020 report.

It's important to note, however, that many of our communities are already addressing the needs of youth and have been engaged in local educational improvement strategies from mentoring and tutoring to practical and relevant career preparation programs in the high schools. Consequently, one of the primary tasks of the Community Learning Council is to assist in trying to coordinate all the citizen volunteers of these activities to avoid duplication, maximize resources, and increase the effectiveness of the work being done.

Jeanne Williamson, superintendent of the D unlap School District, and Dr. Jack Gilligan, president emeritus of Fayette Companies, graciously volunteered to co-chair this council. A number of residents from tri-county communities also have offered to help; more are needed. They'll use the Vision 2020 Internet site as a way of communicating among members and identifying both tasks and achievements. As Williamson said, "We want to start off doing just a few things-but doing them well." The council will consist of educational and community leaders from Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall, and Stark counties.

Everyone knows-or should know-that we now live in a world economy where knowledge and skills are the only things the market will reward. Without them, it'll be impossible to have a modest standard of living. The competition for knowledge workers is worldwide. Our children will compete against kids from other nations-not the ones from a neighboring school district. It's truly a new world economic order that's permeated, if not convulsed, every nation.

At issue is the fact that approximately 40 percent of our nation's high school graduates are functionally illiterate. That is, they have no marketable skills that will allow them to work in a knowledge- and skills-based economy. This is true for our nation as well as our region. As Jack Gilligan pointed out, "Out of 24 hours in a child's life, only six are in the class room-for one-half the year. What we have is a community and cultural problem that requires a community solution. For we can't expect the schools to solve the problems of home and community that undermine learning in the classroom."

The necessity and reinforcement of learning and acquiring skills for the student and the nation's future economic prosperity has yet to become a pervasive cultural theme. It'll require both community and educational leadership to make it so.

Needless to say, we can't solve the nation's problem without first solving our own. The Greater Peoria Region Vision 2020 is a strategy to do this. But to implement it requires your involvement and assistance. Please join us in this endeavor. Sign up to participate by visiting our Web site at www.Vision2020.org. IBI

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