It was 25 years ago this month that Lyndon B. Johnson first proposed the legislative program that created a "jobs corps" to help youth get job training and break the vicious cycle of poverty.
Ever since then, politicians have debated time and time again the value of such a program and each time it has survived the federal budget ax. Perhaps that fact in itself is reason enough to honor the Job Corps.However, there is a more important reason that the program should be recognized on its silver anniversary - the thousand of youths it has served. Take for instance, Layton resident Tim Border. He now holds a master's degree from Weber State College and is a highly sought-after motivational speaker.
Border said his life turned around when he came to the Weber Basin Job Corps Center in South Weber in 1980. He went from a high school dropout to the Weber State honor roll with a 3.96 grade point average.
Although plagued by a sometimes undeserved image, the two Utah Job Corps centers - one in South Weber and one in Clearfield - turn out a high percentage of success stories. At-risk teens graduate to become productive wage earners. Instead of living on the dole, they become taxpayers.
Now, some 24 years since the first Jobs Corps center opened in Utah in 1965, the program is on the brink of a new role - serving Utah's large number of dropouts.
The State Board of Education should be applauded for making the two centers alternative high schools to the state's educational system.
More and more Utah students now have the opportunity to receive social, academic and job training. In a few years it may be that an overwhelming majority of students at the centers will be from Utah.
The Job Corps program remains a good idea - to give those who fall "through the cracks" a second chance. It is a chance that in the long run can save taxpayers money and give struggling youth a new sense of hope and dignity.