301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

9.12.23 – JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT)

How are your taxpayer dollars being used to educate our young people? There’s more than one answer. Some are getting criticized, while others are praised.

Auditor Shad White is critical of the fact that the state sends public universities the same amount of money to educate an engineer as a sociology major, pointing out the average pay right out of school for each.

But that’s not the only way your taxpayer dollars are at work to prepare students for their next chapter in life.

“Sometimes, I think, just being a cheerleader and a true coach, and you know, making them realize their potential,” said Becky Tullos Jones.

Lifelong Pearl resident and former teacher Becky Tullos Jones is one of two career coaches in the Pearl Public School District.

“The one thing that I always tried to do is encourage my kids to get your degree, you know, come back to Pearl and be a productive citizen,” she explained. “So, I feel like I’m like in the middle of our mission statement here.”

And the coaches connect with the industry in the area to make sure they know where the needs exist.

“So many of our students are not certain what they want to do. But we have many that are ready to go into the workforce,” explained career coach Brian Quick. “But we also want to make sure that their careers that they’re in or careers that they can sustain a living and an income for their families when they get ready to move into that stage of life.”

Superintendent Chris Chism made this note.

“They’re here to help match the kids to the jobs, give them experiences, but also maybe a foot in the door to those opportunities,” said Chism.

Accelerate Mississippi explains that two years of funding have made the expansion of career coaches around the state possible.

“We often tell teachers and career coaches as guidance counselors, we even tell parents, there is no plan B here,” said Accelerate Mississippi Executive Director Ryan Miller. “If they’re planning to go to a community college, if they’re planning on getting a short-term training certification, that’s as much a Plan A is going on to a four-year institution.”

The Auditor says he plans to release a report on that return on investment at the public universities sometime soon.