Carlos Guerra of the San Antonio Express-News has an eye-opening commentary in today’s paper. He chronicles the rising and falling standards of higher education in Texas. According to Guerra, Texas was falling behind other states in the late 90s in terms of offering competitive universities and programs. Research dollars were leaving the state in droves, as were our brightest students.
Guerra hinges his commentary on the following set of conditions:
Too few Texans were going to college and earning degrees. And exacerbating it all were the gaps among the state’s racial and ethnic groups. Blacks enrolled and graduated at rates lower than Anglos, but it was the abysmal rates for Latinos — Texas’ fastest-growing group — that are the worst economic threat.
To combat this, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board unveiled a plan titled “Closing the Gaps by 2015.” The goal was to “increase college enrollment and graduation rates while upgrading university excellence and research.”
Improvements have been made, particularly among African American enrollment in Texas schools, but Hispanics still lag. Why? Because Texas has the highest dropout rate in the country. A comprehensive plan to keep students in high school and adequately train them for real life experiences has not been offered by any state-level official in the last 10 years.
If education becomes an issue in this upcoming governor’s race, it will be interesting to see if Rick Perry decides it’s an important enough issue to add to his states’ rights platform.