Governor encourages local students to stay in school
by Cris Ritchie Editor
HAZARD Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear made a stop in Hazard Friday to encourage a group of high school freshmen and sophomores to stay in school.
The students were attending the regional Graduate Kentucky Summit on the campus of Hazard Community and Technical College, a program aimed at showing high schoolers the benefit of completing their secondary education.
Beshear stressed the importance of obtaining a high school diploma, noting that statistics show high school graduates on average earn more than those who do not finish school.
It makes sense to complete that high school education and get that diploma because its worth something, he said.
Helping to ensure that Kentuckys children become educated is the most important thing we can do for the future of this state, Beshear noted, and working to prevent students from dropping out of school is an important step in making sure more of the states youth obtain their education.
According to the Kentucky Department of Education, Kentucky recorded a drop out rate of 3.3 percent in the 2007-08 school year, the most recent on record. A total of 671,466 students were enrolled that year in the states public schools.
Beshear said drop out prevention is a matter of moving the state forward in terms of both educational attainment and economic prosperity.
It not only affects their lives long term, it affects the economy of Kentucky long term, he said. All the studies indicate that a child that graduates from high school will make thousands and thousands of more dollars over the course of their lifetime.
Brashear said the states prisons and welfare rolls are filled with high school drop outs, adding that he hopes initiatives like the Graduate Kentucky Summit and a bill aiming to raise the drop out age from 16 to 18 in Kentucky will play positive rolls.
We are having summits like this all over the state, said Beshear. My wife, Jane, is heading those summits up, and were bringing together the leadership in all of the communities the educational, the civic leadership, the political leadership to look at different ways we can address this drop out problem.
But it will take a community approach, Beshear added, and hes hopeful thats one thing that will come from these summits.
One of the ways we addressed it is raising the drop out age, but thats just one of the tools, he said. Youve got to be able to engage the whole community in looking at ways that we can make sure we address the kinds of issues that cause kids to drop out of school.
Fridays summit included participation from several area schools in Perry, Knott, Breathitt and other counties, and featured sessions where students could learn about college and how to navigate career paths. The events keynote speaker was HCTC President and CEO Dr. Allen Goben, a first generation college student himself.
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