Members of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce (GSCC) are dedicated to ensuring the education of Sangamon County's youth is of the highest possible quality.
While they believe the local public school system is adequate, they don't think it works well for all the students and maintain that children whose families fall below the poverty level do not fare as well -- in danger of falling so far behind they might never catch up to their peers.
GSCC members point toward research that says evidence-based, cost-effective programs, like the ones highlighted in the recent Sangamon Success Report, would better serve the children of less-advantaged families. Using such programs could improve the performance of those students by as much as 70 percent.
Further, chamber officials said, educating children with these programs could be good for the local economy, as students with better educations are able to secure better jobs and contribute more to their communities.
The GSCC's Strategic Leadership Council recently announced that it would back the programs in the Sangamon Success Report, which was compiled through a collaboration between the Sangamon County Continuum of Learning; a local partnership of the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln; Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce; United Way of Central Illinois; and Center for State Policy and Leadership on the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois.
The report was released in October and included a list of 25 recommendations for greater use of proven education programs, as well as more stringent assessments of how well programs already in place were working.
Recommendations include implementing nurse-family partnerships for low-income and first-time mothers; improving home visiting programs; making data from programs more readily available to preschools and childcare provider; enhancing math programs for younger students; maintaining a pool of qualified mentors; making available to high school students programs through which they could earn college credits; developing more and better technical education programs; and adding more workshops for teachers.