'Jump Start' program to help high school students

'Jump Start' program to help high school students
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It's a new idea for helping high school students make the move to the workplace. State Education Superintendent John White promoted the 'Jump Start' program in Lake Charles tonight.

The state program would essentially take advantage of public-private partnerships to help high school students get workplace experience, certifying them for the career fields most likely to lead to high-wage jobs.

Various education officials attended Thursday's meeting and all seem to be on-board.

State Education Superintendent John White hosted forums this week across the state on a new initiative called 'Jump Start'.

"Jump Start is a program to give our kids the credentials they need to participate in this job boom that we have in SWLA," said White.

Just how will it do that? White says the program will cater to high school students, allowing them to take advantage of public-private partnerships.

"We cannot have the average high school that's cash-strapped, struggling for time and people, they can't go it alone. We got to ask our industries and our community and technical colleges to help our high schools provide these credentials and course work for our kids," explained White.

It's something Roger Creel, Director of Career and Technical Education for Calcasieu Schools says is already one of our areas strong points.

"I really feel like SWLA is ahead of the state in our business, industry, secondary schools and post-secondary schools working together," said Creel.

While the proposal still needs to go before BESE and the State Legislature, White's pretty confident it will be approved.

"If BESE passes this March 6, we're going to be calling these school systems the next Monday and we're going to be getting this thing rolling," said White.

Thursday's crowd was agreeable. Calcasieu Parish School Superintendent Wayne Savoy is all for it. So is Jeff Davis.

"What is being proposed is right where we think we need to be. We have students that are excited about the changes and we're ready to get it going," said JD Superintendent Brian LeJeune.

It's likely because White has been working with schools locally to iron out the details, that most of the state is in agreement.

"We're getting great support because people believe that they want their kids to have success in the workplace and be able to provide for their families," said White.

In terms of funding, one of the pieces that needs legislative approval, White says, "Our high school principals should be rewarded, not punished, when a kid gets a good career and technical education. We do that in our accountability system under 'Jump Start'. Secondly, 'Jump Start' proposes that we start to fund career education courses honestly. It just costs a little bit more to teach a kid to be an electrician or a nurse assistant than it does to teach them to read Shakespeare, that's just a fact."

'Jump Start' also proposes changes to teacher certifications, among other things.

To view the proposal, which is up for public comment through February 21:  http://www.louisianabelieves.com/courses/jump-start-career-education