The Free Press, Mankato, MN


November 9, 2012

Our View: Adult basic education makes a difference

Thumbs up: In an era where political leaders of every stripe talk of the importance of getting people into jobs, the Mankato area Adult Basic Education program can say it is doing just that.

The program provides education to adults to help them become self-sufficient in the workforce  by providing a variety of classes including English as Second Language, General Education Development (GED), some college prep and FastTRAC a program to train participants quickly in skills local employers need.

The small and nimble program housed under Mankato Public Schools Community Education and Recreation department has been meeting exploding demand for its services. Enrollment has increased 20 percent in the last two years, and 30 percent in the last four years.

Much of the growth in enrollment may be due to the economy. Workers are laid off and need to acquire new skills or improve the ones they have in order to land a new job.

The program serves not only the Mankato district but also school districts of Maple River, Lake Crystal, New Ulm, Sleepy Eye and Brown and Blue Earth County jails.

The program’s biggest challenges come from space needs, but it also has partnerships with area workforce centers that help with resources and space.

Program leaders report that 45 percent of participants move up a level each year, and the program has never missed state targets for progress.

It’s a very much needed program that probably gets little recognition for its “down in the trenches” work helping people get gainful employment.


Bachmann gets an opportunity to reflect

Thumbs up: To the extremely close call that Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann experienced in Tuesday’s election, and for the opportunity it provides for a personal adjustment.

Bachmann, who made a name for herself nationally by embracing the tea party movement and running for president, is also well known for her hyper-partisan statements — some of which have come back to embarrass both her and her party. But after she defeated Democratic newcomer Jim Graves by a razor-thin margin on Tuesday in the conservative 6th District, she hinted that the voters’ message was received.

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