In a message to Meridian-area business leaders and others in Meridian Tuesday, state school superintendent Dr. Henry Johnson emphasized the relationship between education and economic success for both individuals and communities.
"In communities where there is a strong public school system, the communities thrive. In those communities where the public school system is not strong, the communities are in jeopardy," said Johnson,
speaking to the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation's Business Before Hours.
Johnson reduced the individual benefits to a dollars and cents issue, pointing out that, in the 1950s, 65 percent of jobs involved unskilled
labor, yet people holding them could still lead good middle class lives.
"Today, only about 20 percent of the available jobs are for unskilled labor and the projection is none of the individuals in that category can lead a middle class life," Johnson said.
The superintendent said this change is a challenge to both educators and parents.
"We have to make sure those youngsters have the skills to be successful in that marketplace of skilled labor where people think for a living," he said.
Johnson added that achieving that goal is a long range challenge that must be met.
"It's important to observe what the trend line is over time and only then will we be able to tell if things are getting better or if they're getting worse or if they're just stagnant," Johnson said.
The superintendent said the hopes of parents and the needs of business are both functions of the educational system.