By Elia Arenas

I grew up hard-working, and started at the age of 15 to supplement my family’s income when my father became very ill and required surgery. I stopped going to school to sustain our family, and would go on to work at the same job for 37 years.

After being terminated from the job in 2008 because the business was closing, I did not know what to do. Without a high school degree I could not apply for jobs. I learned of the opportunity to gain my General Education Development (GED) and registered. I will graduate soon, that is, unless Illinois legislators cut the program before I have the opportunity to finish.

Due to our state’s budget crisis, adult education programs are facing severe cuts to their budget. Most programs will have to close down completely so people looking to attain their GED, participate in career preparation, or take English-as-a-Second-Language lessons are in a tough situation. Adult education classes are the only opportunity for adult learners who did not attain a U.S. education as a youth, to get back on track and advance.