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Ret. Generals Call for State Funded Pre-K

By Daniel Cherry | Published 21 Mar 2013 04:09pm | comments
Several retired generals from Mississippi are calling on state lawmakers to implement an early childhood education system. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, the former military officials say too many young Mississippians aren't fit for service.
 
Nearly 90 percent of young Mississippians aged 17 to 24 can't qualify for military service according to Mission Readiness, a non-partisan national security group made up of retired senior military officials. Robert Crear, a retired Army Brigadier General, says many can't pass the military entry exam, they're too overweight, and some have criminal backgrounds.
 
"Without soldiers to defend us, we cease to be not only a superpower, but we cease to be a democratic society."
 
Eleven retired Mississippi generals and admirals have sent a letter to state lawmakers calling for a state funded early childhood education system. Those like Erik Hearon a retired Air Force Major General, say today's military is becoming extremely high tech, and low-performing recruits won't cut it anymore.
 
"Our concern is national security. Of course we've got to have good quality people to provide national security and starts at the very beginning with early childhood education and fitness."
 
There's currently a bill that would give millions of dollars to the state Department of Education to phase in pre-K. The bill has passed the Senate and is currently in conference where lawmakers in both chambers can work out their differences on the bill. Hearon says the return on investment is worth the cost.
 
"This has been shown to have great value. 16-1 return on the money because of what it avoids in the future in terms of problems with obesity, healthcare, incarceration in some cases."
 
Mississippi is currently the only state in the South without a state-funded pre-k program. Daniel Cherry... MPB News.

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