Khayat: "Invest in Education"

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The chancellor of the University of Mississippi, Dr. Robert Khayat, stressed to the EMBDC's Business Before Hours the importance of education in Mississippi.

"The level and quality of education an individual has not only affects his or her earnings but also the quality of employment, higher wages, greater employment stability, greater upward mobility," Khayat said.

Khayat then reduced his argument for better funding of education in our state to dollars and cents.

"In 1999 the average income of college graduates was $44,000 per year, while high school graduates, or those that did not graduate high school averaged $22,000 per year," Khayat said. "College graduates pay $4 in taxes for every one dollar we spend on education."

The chancellor said that education even has a positive influence on health and the crime rate.

"Persons of higher levels of education tend to enjoy better health than those with lower levels of education," Khayat said. "In the Mississippi prison systems, 84 percent of the inmates are at fourth grade or below, reading and math levels. In Mississippi we spend $20,000 per year per prisoner. We spend $6,000 per year per student."

Khayat asked his audience a series of questions.

"Do we want an educated workforce? Certainly," said Khayat. "Do you want to reduce crime and the cost of the prison system? Absolutely. Do we want to have healthier Mississippians and reduce public health care costs? Certainly. Do you want high quality of life for your children and grandchildren. Absolutely. The answer is yes to all those questions. Realizations of those aspirations depends on our willingness to invest in education."