Too many young people unfit to serve in the military - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Too many young people unfit to serve in the military

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By Cheryl Lasseter - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The U.S. Military needs educated people with physical stamina, but according to a study released by a national organization called Mission Readiness, that's not what we're producing around the country, or here in Mississippi.

Studies reveal that more than a third of ninth graders in Mississippi fail to graduate from high school.  Back in 2008, 1 in 38 adults in the state was under correctional control, and more than 50 percent of military-age young adults are considered overweight.

"We have the best ships, tanks, planes, and all this equipment is technical.  It takes well-educated, physically-fit young people to operate this equipment, and therein lies the problem," said retired Army Brigadier General Roger Shields.

Shields, along with retired Army Brigadier General Leon Collins, spoke at the state capitol Thursday about the problem.  They're part of Mission Readiness, and they believe high-quality early-childhood education will prevent many of the issues young adults are facing.

"Early education has proven to increase graduation rates while reducing arrest rates," Collins said.

Every learning opportunity is utilized at the Galloway Children's Center in Jackson.  "We really emphasize the whole child here," said Center Director Sharon Patterson.

Even the infants learn at the Galloway Children's Center.  They're taught to reach for objects to stimulate their curiosities.  As the children get older, they're strengthening all physical, emotional and cognitive skills.

"They need to have their attention span expanded by minutes, each age group.  They need to listen to stories, participate, take turns, stay on task," Patterson said.

Of course not everyone can afford such an early education program, and federally-funded Head Start programs don't cover every demographic.

Because there are no state-funded early-childhood education programs in Mississippi, many young people don't get the foundation that helps pave the way to a better quality of life.

©2010 WLBT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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