First Lady Jane Beshear's Communications Office
First Lady Jane Beshear unveils dropout prevention initiative

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, July 21, 2009  
Contact Information:  Jay Blanton
Sarah Baird

New Web site offers information for communities

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Recognizing the vital role education plays in the lives of Kentucky’s youth and the economic prosperity of the Commonwealth, First Lady Jane Beshear will host Graduate Kentucky: A Community Approach. The inaugural dropout prevention summit will be held Sept. 11-12, 2009, in Frankfort.

“Education provides a passport to future successes,” said Mrs. Beshear, “not only for our children but also for the future of our state. Together, as a community, we must find ways to keep all of our students engaged and in school.”

The event kicks off a statewide initiative to tackle the dropout problem in Kentucky. The program will be a comprehensive conversation to identify the reforms necessary to ensure student success and begin the process of lowering Kentucky’s dropout rate.

The goal of the initiative is to not only understand why students are dropping out of school, but also share ideas and best practices for how communities can play a pivotal role in reducing the dropout rate by creating a strategic vision for keeping the state’s children in school.

“Reducing our dropout rate is as tied to educational achievement as it is to workforce development, economic development and the ability of Kentucky to offer its citizens the quality of life they deserve,” said Mrs. Beshear.

Although Kentucky’s current high school graduation rate of 84.5 percent is above the national average, 6,489 students in the state dropped out in 2008 and nearly 26 percent of adults in Kentucky have less than a high school education.

These numbers have real consequences. On average, Kentucky high school dropouts earn about $6,800 less each year than someone with a diploma. Crime rates soar among those who have dropped out of school. What’s more, dropouts typically have worse health and often do not live as long as someone who has completed high school.

“I invite and encourage all Kentuckians to participate in addressing this complex problem,” said Mrs. Beshear. “It will require thoughtful input from dedicated educators, policymakers, business leaders, community members, parents and students.”

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and President of The Children’s Defense Fund, will be the keynote speaker on the evening of September 11. For more than 40 years, Mrs. Edelman has been a leading voice for children and youth across the nation.

Additional activities include a conversation with Gov. Steve Beshear and other state and education leaders, a student panel and breakout sessions on best practices.

The governor’s office has created a Web site for students, parents, schools and communities dedicated to tackling this important issue. The site,, will offer success stories, dropout data, tips for dropout prevention, and registration information for the dropout prevention summit.

Because it is important to take a community approach to ensure student success, six regional dropout summits across the state are planned as a follow-up to the statewide event. The dates and locations for these regional summits will be announced in late summer.

The development of Graduate Kentucky: A Communication Approach is the result of a grant awarded to Kentucky by America’s Promise Alliance, Colin and Alma Powell’s non-profit coalition of organizations that provide support and awareness for issues affecting children. In the spirit of the community approach, other sponsors include State Farm Insurance and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

For more information about the 2009 Graduate Kentucky: A Community Approach dropout prevention summit, please visit