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Legislators hear workforce, adult education success stories

 

By Rae Kruger


MARSHALL   Just a few years ago, Joshua Pearcy wouldn't have been able to do what he did Friday morning in a conference room at the Lyon County courthouse in Marshall: Speak to state legislators.

"Years ago I probably couldn't have sat in this room without shaking," Pearcy said. "To be able to talk to a big group like this and not be nervous, to not be shaking..."

Pearcy said he couldn't have shared that Friday without the help from the Marshall area Adult Basic Education program and the Southwest Minnesota Workforce Center/Private Industry Council. ABE and the workforce center gave him confidence to believe in himself, improve his speech and to improve his life.

"They've been a big plus for me," Pearcy said. "I needed to believe in myself."

Pearcy now has two jobs and plans on continuing his education.

Pat Thomas, the director of the Marshall ABE said one of the best things ABE and the workforce center does is believe in people and inspire people to believe in themselves. Pearcy was one of more than a dozen ABE and workforce participants who shared their stories with four state legislators and an aide from U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman's office Friday morning. Sen. Dennis Frederickson, R-New Ulm, said a meeting like Friday's was important because the Legislature starts its session in February.

"As legislators we see the line items and the dollars in the budget. You've connected these stories to the real dollars," Frederickson said.

We know ABE and workforce participants gave Frederickson and Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, Rep. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, Sen. Jim Vickerman, DFL-Tracy, and Gerald Woodley, Coleman's aide, plenty of stories Friday.

Neng Yang and his family live in Walnut Grove where he works with the Hmong residents and at the local school. ABE and the workforce center helped him and his family when they moved to Walnut Grove, Yang said.
Yang works as a school custodian and recently became a bus driver.

"I see the adult program (ABE) and dislocated workers program help newcomers," Yang said. "Right now, some have gotten jobs, others know how to speak English (better) and some have completed job applications. I'd like to thank adult school and the workforce center for that."

Thomas said there are more stories out there but the ABE program can't keep up with the need with existing funding.

"As costs continue to go up we can't keep up with the need," Thomas said. "We aren't able to serve new students because we don't have the funds."

Yet, ABE isn't asking the state for more money, just better use of what it has already designated, Thomas said. State law "says that if the program grows by 3 percent the Legislature will automatically give us a 3 percent increase in funds," Thomas said. "Legislators won't see a 3 percent growth in the ABE program because the program can't pay for any more growth," Thomas said. "ABE needs a 3 percent increase and the state must drop the 3 percent growth requirement," Thomas said. ABE would like the cap the state has to not allow more than $100,000 to go to any program within ABE to be removed.

"That should be changed to a maximum of 25 percent to allow for more flexibility to direct money," Thomas said. "ABE would also like the state to provide all $40 in help to each GED graduate rather than the $20," Thomas said. "The state has $40 available but so often the money remains unused because only $20 is designated," Thomas said.


rkruger@marshallindependent.com


Photo by Rae Kruger

 

 

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