College is not for everyone. The career and tech centers of Illinois – the trade term is now EFE, “education for employment” – say their programs go well before, during, or instead of college. “Image being everything, we have to work to change that image and change the stigma that is attached, that is embedded in so many people's – so many parents' – heads,” says Edwardsville's Rob Werden, president of the Illinois Career and Technical Administrators.
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“Because, hey, what mom tells you to take, you're taking. And if you don't change that in mama's mind, you're not going to have the successful students taking the classes that they need.” The offerings at the 25 career centers, their representatives say, are both a gateway to a good-paying career and a foundation for college. They were at the Capitol to deliver a task force report about their work to the Illinois General Assembly.