Guest Column: Testify for Comprehensive Community Solutions, Inc.

December 5, 2012

Editor’s note: Comprehensive Community Solutions, commonly known in the area as Youthbuild, needs your support, lobbying, and if possible, testimony. I will testify on behalf of this organization that has been on the cutting edge of the Green Jobs effort in Rockford, by uniquely offering positions in sustainability to the underserved and disadvantaged youth in the Rockford area. Educating those in poverty by empowering them to learn positive environmental skills is a remarkable vision. Please help. — F.S.

Dear Friends,

In a time of increasing layoffs and rising unemployment rates, education is the key pathway for individuals to transcend poverty and succeed economically and socially. High school dropouts are at extreme risk for economic failure with all the serious consequences that will result. When young people drop out, they are at a crossroads that can either lead to a tragic waste of their talents or an exciting opportunity to rebuild their lives.

Comprehensive Community Solutions, a Rockford nonprofit organization with a mission to bring about fundamental positive change in challenged neighborhoods and in the circumstances of those who live there, has proposed GreenTek Career Academy Charter School, an innovative educational pathway for high school dropouts and opportunity youth.

We are asking for your support for GreenTek Career Academy Charter School. Please join us at a public hearing convened by the Illinois State Charter School Commission and let your voice be heard on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, from 6 till 8 p.m. at Rockford Public Library, Main Branch, 215 N. Wyman St. This hearing will provide an opportunity for you to speak directly to the Commission in support of GreenTek.

GreenTek Career Academy Charter School, the proposed dropout recovery high school for students aged 17-21, was rejected by the Rockford School Board for the fourth time, since it was first presented in 1999. There is a new opportunity to reverse the Rockford School Board decision. The state created the Illinois State Charter School Commission with the mission of reviewing local charter school rulings and the authority to grant charters that local school districts deny. GreenTek has appealed to the Illinois State Charter School Commission for review, and we are appealing to you for your assistance.

The State Commission’s decision will be strongly impacted by support for GreenTek shown by the Rockford community. There is a compelling need for a dropout recovery high school in Rockford. A Southern Illinois University study (October 2010) found a “population at risk” consisting of 46,916 individuals in Boone and Winnebago counties aged 16 and older who were not enrolled in school and had not attained a high school diploma or a GED.

If approved, GreenTek Career Academy Charter School will be a diploma-granting school that will share facilities and benefit from relationships with CCS’s YouthBuild program and its partners. In addition, it will be held to the same academic standards of operation, teaching and outcomes as similar charter schools in other communities. By attending this public hearing on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, you will demonstrate your own principles about supporting equal opportunities for all young people who want to serve and give back to our community.

More importantly, you will understand why the Commission should approve GreenTek Career Academy Charter School:

• It fills a critical need in our community.

• It is aligned with District plans for Career Academies.

• It will meet state standards and requirements.

• It will provide desirable pathways for youth out of the education mainstream and clear economic benefits for students and the community.

Those unable to attend the hearing can send e-mail comments anytime from now to next Monday to: Jeanne.nowaczewski@illinois.gov.

If you have any questions about the public hearing, please do not hesitate to call me at 815-963-6236. If you intend to join us, would you be kind enough to rsvp at: www.bit.ly/greentekrsvp. Thank you!

Sincerely,

Kerry Knodle,
Executive Director and Founder
Comprehensive Community Solutions, Inc.

From the Dec. 5-11, 2012, issue

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