Voices and Viewpoints

Planning for Perkins V in Illinois

by Dr. Marci Rockey / Nov 8, 2019

The Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) have been holding regional Perkins V State Planning Listening Sessions to solicit feedback on the state’s Perkins V draft plan for career and technical education (CTE). These events have been held at multiple locations across the state including at Richland Community College in Decatur. Representatives from ICCB and ISBE noted that increasing educational equity is at the center of the identified goals within the state’s plans.

The newly required Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) was identified as an opportunity for community members and representatives from the areas of secondary and postsecondary education, business, and workforce development to be engaged in data-driven assessment toward advancing equity in their local contexts. Community colleges are critical to this effort as they are being called upon to lead the work alongside the state’s Education for Employment (EFE) systems that provide CTE leadership for K-12. While the templates and the process may differ for each sector, the CLNA process will facilitate collaboration that aims to identify local needs and complementary priorities.

This focus on equity is particularly important to students across Illinois. Perkins V allows states to utilize reserve funding within their Perkins plan for eligible recipients in four different areas. During the listening session, rural areas and areas with performance gaps were identified as priorities for the state. This is a timely discussion as the Partnership for College Completion is releasing a series of three reports that explore the implications of the state’s disinvestment in higher education for Black students, Latinx students, and rural students. As the financial burden associated with college has shifted more toward students in the state, barriers to postsecondary access for these student subpopulations have intensified (Partnership for College Completion, 2019).

While the CLNA requires the disaggregation of data, local efforts to close equity gaps for Black, Latinx, and rural students must be intentional. Despite expanded definitions of special populations, the language of Perkins V is neutral on race and geography. If stakeholders who are engaged in this process adopt a shared definition of equity early on, it will assist them in moving from simply looking at equity gaps to taking responsibility for prioritizing systemic action to address them. This is critical to closing gaps in opportunity and confronting implicit biases that contribute to inequitable educational systems. As the Office of Community College Research and Leadership works with ICCB to support community college practitioners who are completing the CLNA, advancing a race-conscious outlook and understanding the local context of opportunity will be central to the process.

 

Partnership for College Completion (2019). College affordability for students in Illinois. Retrieved from http://partnershipfcc.org/affordability
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