Governor Barbour speaks to high schools about the
Jobs for Mississippi Graduates program

(Jackson, MS and Columbus, MS) Nov. 14 — Governor Haley Barbour today visited Provine High School in Jackson and Columbus High School in Columbus, with a single message to students: Staying in school through graduation will help ensure a healthy transition into meaningful employment or postsecondary education.

Accompanied by local and national educators, Governor Barbour touted the success of an acclaimed dropout prevention program, “Jobs for Mississippi Graduates” (JMG), an affiliate of a national program called Jobs for America’s Graduates. JMG is recognized for its remarkable outcomes with at-risk youth, including last year’s 93 percent graduation rate for JMG participants.

Implementation of the JMG program has resulted in a decrease in the dropout rate at Provine High School since 2001. The program will be available at Columbus High School in January 2007.

“Here in Mississippi we have to face the fact that students who are among the 40 percent who drop out every year face limited future education and employment options,” Governor Barbour said. “Jobs for Mississippi Graduates is a very successful program that is working to keep students in school and by so doing helping them to greater achievements in life.”

Governor Barbour was joined at the schools by Ken Smith, president of Jobs for America’s Graduates, the national model on which the Mississippi program is based, and by Dr. Joe Haynes, executive director of JMG.

“The good news is that Jobs for America’s Graduates has demonstrated 25 years of consistent and remarkable success,” Smith said. “The bad news is that the challenges faced by young people are no less than and maybe even greater than when JAG launched the original model in Delaware in the 1979-1980 school year.”

JMG was first implemented in Mississippi in 1990 and is currently serving 1,200 students in 39 schools. JMG collaborates with the State Department of Education, state and local workforce investment agencies and school districts in providing the program within the public school system.

Governor Barbour has made dropout prevention a priority in Mississippi, including it in his public education initiative, known as UpGrade, which was approved in the 2006 legislative session and heralded as Mississippi’s most comprehensive education reform legislation in almost 25 years.  In addition to focusing on dropout prevention, the new law rewards teacher and school performance, reduces state bureaucracy and strengthens discipline in Mississippi public schools.

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