Terri Clark, Director of Adult Education at Pearl River Community College, believes that Dickie Scruggs’ influence can have a positive effect on students as they pursue their GED education in Mississippi.
“With Mr. Scruggs being the advocate this will bring so much community awareness to what we are doing at Pearl River, adult education, GED prep, and workforce readiness training,” said Clark.
Scruggs spent six of the last seven years in federal custody for a judicial bribery scheme. While in prison he found a new purpose in helping inmates receive their GED education and has become the spokesman for 'Second Chance Mississippi'.
“It was very rewarding for me,” said Scruggs, who recently visited PRCC and met with GED faculty and staff in the program. “I did not really have a sense of purpose when I went to prison. This gave me a sense of purpose. I decided to keep doing it when I came out.”
About 450 students are currently enrolled at PRCC's three campuses in GED and workforce training courses, a number that is expected to grow as the weather improves, Clark said.
“It's cold this week and a lot of our students walk to class,” she said. “And so the colder temperature has decreased our numbers.”
The GED exam is done in four parts and costs $120, which students must pay for themselves, Clark said. A student can take each part separately to make it more affordable at $30 for each part.
In addition, GED testing “has gotten immeasurably harder,” Scruggs said, with the focus of the testing geared more toward getting dropouts ready to enter college rather than preparing them for jobs. He said the tests are now based on Common Core standards.
He said in 2013, 8,000 people in Mississippi passed the GED. That number dropped 90 percent in 2014, with only 800 passing.
Scruggs said he is seeking funding and support for Second Chance Mississippi to help more people in Mississippi earn their GED and/or get certified in a trade so they can find jobs.
GED Instructor Matt McCoy feels the need of funding and education far beyond the school system too and helps inmates receive their GED.
“A lot of those guys if they don't have a family or somebody to take care of them when they get out or maybe a job lined up then they are just going to end back at the prison system” McCoy says.
McCoy further supports Scruggs mission in spreading awareness.
“The past few year what he has done, I think he has actually seen what these guys and gals go through being away from their family and I just really appreciate what he's doing I mean I think it's very admirable.”
According to Second Chance Mississippi's website 500,000 adults in Mississippi do not have a GED.
Scruggs is planning to spread the mission all over the state this year.
How to help
To learn more about Second Chance Mississippi, visit www.SecondChanceMS.com.