I wanted to share with you what Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) affiliates received in a newsletter from JAG National. Vice President Mike Pence is among the many governors or former governors (split evenly among both parties) who serve on the JAG board of directors. Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG) is among 33 state affiliates. Having the new administration’s ear and a seat at the table is a tremendous step toward more advocacy and support. I’ll be anxious to see where this leads. Scaling JTG from 19 programs to 119 programs all across Tennessee helping at-risk students graduate and become college/career ready? Bring it on!
As noted in a separate report to the Board and the Council of State of Affiliates, a strong JAG supporter among the senior White House staff arranged for Ken Smith to be one of nine parents and educators invited to a “Parent Teacher Conference Listening Session” with the President, Vice President, and newly confirmed Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.
Vice President Pence – who, as Indiana Governor, organized the largest state investment in JAG, and whose state is tied with Louisiana as our largest – spoke passionately about JAG to the President and Secretary, highlighting the success it has brought to some of the nation’s most challenged young people.
Secretary DeVos invited the JAG team to her office for a full briefing at a later date. She indicated she had “heard good things” about JAG as she strongly campaigned for a broad range of educational choices in Michigan. She was eager to hear more detail regarding strategies that have proven to work at scale and over time, and JAG meets those criteria.
Vice President Pence has also offered to meet with Governor Phil Bryant and Ken to begin discussing how JAG could be part of the new Administration’s education and workforce initiatives.
Most of the senior White House staff was present in the Roosevelt Room for the discussion, so a broad range of leadership within the White House heard about the program directly from the Vice President.
On another note, I have fantastic news to share with you about JTG students earning college scholarships. I’m gathering photos and information so stay tuned. Finally, my trip to Anderson County Career & Technical Center in Clinton and Oneida High School in Scott County went great. Educators in those schools speak highly of JTG and are thankful it is in their respective schools. We are thankful their school districts invest in JTG and proud they are part of the JTG program roster!