Jump Start convention focuses on youth following graduation

Louisiana Believes

Louisiana needs to ensure more high school graduates have either a full-time job or are enrolled in college, State Education Superintendent John White said on Tuesday during the fifth annual Jump Start convention in Baton Rouge.

According to the state Department of Education, the Jump Start program was launched in 2014 in an effort to help high school students earn industry-based credentials and secure quality jobs, as well as be prepared for technical college or a university.

More students graduated from high school last year than ever before, but the numbers show a “life drop out problem among” graduates, White said. Louisiana is “at the very bottom in terms of young people who are neither enrolled in an educational institution or full-time employment” after high school, he said.

“Even with high-grade credentials, we are not confident they’re walking into a job — to upward mobility, lifetime opportunity, continued training and education. And that should trouble us,” White said.

Last year, high school graduates earned more than 60,000 industry-based credentials through their career and technical education courses, up from 20,000 credentials in 2015. Twenty-five percent of the 2018 cohort graduated with a career diploma and industry-based credentials, which are validated by Louisiana employers.

White commended the state’s teachers and business partners for their progress within the Jump Start program, but he sounded a “note of challenge” regarding the futures of students who took part in the program.

White said the Jump Start program combats the “stigma, not just in Louisiana, but in America perpetrated against career and technical education.” He said it gives students the chance to become a productive member of an organization, team and society.

“There is dignity in learning to work,” White said. “There is challenge in learning to work. There is intellectual measure to be valued in work.”

The convention will feature new sessions called “Jump Start 2.0.” They are designed to help participants “reenvision” how to connect high school to life after graduation and help secure opportunities for students.