Legislation signed into state law today will be a key component in helping stop the student “brain
drain” facing our state colleges and universities. The new law’s author, State Representative Dan Brady (R-Normal), said the new law will help Illinois institutions of higher learning better focus on local students’ interests and career goals so they can complete their education here at home.

“Our state has long been the second largest exporter of high school students in the country, and when Illinois high school students leave us for college, they seldom return,” said Representative Brady, who serves as Republican Spokesman on the House Appropriations-Higher Education Committee. “This new law will help bring together educational institutions and interest groups to determine how Illinois can better share information on students’ needs and goals so we can keep our brightest here."

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, from 1991-2014 enrollment at Illinois public universities and community colleges declined by 50,000 students. Since the 1960’s, Illinois has been a net negative exporter of college students in the country.

 Representative Brady’s new law (House Bill 4781) creates the College and Career Interest Task Force which will work on a process by which Illinois public high school students’ college or career interest data can be collected and shared amongst public colleges and universities in Illinois.  The Task Force is an initiative of the Higher Education Working Group.

“Previously, our colleges and universities had to purchase these types of lists from vendors in an attempt to recruit students. That’s money that can now be redirected to tailoring classes and programs to meet students’ future goals,” Representative Brady said.  “Working together with our universities, we can change the system and encourage more Illinois students to consider continuing their education here in Illinois.”
At a school-wide assembly, State Representative Dan Brady today presented Prairie Central High School students and faculty with a state House Resolution recognizing and thanking them for their ongoing project mapping local cemeteries. House Resolution 1133 was unanimously adopted by members of the Illinois House in May.

“This ongoing project is a great gift to our communities, our history, and to future generations who will seek to know more about their ancestors resting in our local cemeteries,” Representative Brady said.

Prairie Central High School geography teacher Andrew Quain began the cemetery mapping project in the fall of 2015 stressing that it was important to him to participate in a project that had lasting power; something that his “students could work on and see the results.” Students digitally plot the location of gravestones using GPS technology, and also perform geographic analysis and research individuals buried in the cemeteries. Once students are finished collecting data, the information is uploaded to create an interactive map online that, when complete, will allow users to search for the location of and information about graves in the cemeteries.

“To date, students have mapped more than 13,000 gravestones across eight cemeteries in McLean and Livingston Counties. Our Resolution recognizes their hard work that will be so important to those researching their genealogy and family history,” Representative Brady concluded.