FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2011
(Austin, TX) — Today, Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa filed a bill to improve educational attainment levels and reduce the dropout rate in Hidalgo County. The latest American Communities Survey five year estimates for 2005-2009 indicate that less than 60% of the adults in Hidalgo County over the age of 25 had completed high school -Texas is 43rd in the number of students graduating from high school.
"Education drives economic growth. It's the greatest equalizer in society, creating high paying job opportunities in areas that require a talented workforce," Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa said. "Increased investments in education, and greater efforts to ensure students are completing high school and moving on to college, can only keep Texas competitive."
The proposed legislation builds on the demonstrated success of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo (PSJA) ISD's College and Career Technology Academy, established by Dr. Danny King, in partnership with South Texas College. The Academy has already significantly increased graduation rates and college participation for the PSJA, Donna, and La Joya school Districts that have replicated the model. In the past 3 years, the schools have recovered and graduated 1,472 previous dropouts.
"The College and Career Technology Academy is a great example of innovation, something we value highly here in Texas, and it should be replicated countywide," Senator Hinojosa said. "With this bill, we can make it possible for more students to participate by providing them a clear pathway back to education."
The bill would give South Texas College the statutory authority to engage in consortium agreements with public school districts, and to contract for the distribution of Average Daily Attendance funds to operate a high school dropout recovery program in Hidalgo County. This High School Recovery Consortium will allow students under 26 years of age, who lacking 3 or more credit courses, or who've failed the school exit exams, to participate in a curriculum that includes career and technology education, dual credit, advanced placement courses, and other training to improve their employability, increase their high school completion rates, and promote higher education participation.
"One if the best features of this efforts is the focus it places on making students feel valued and empowered - not only to finish high school but also to envision themselves as college students. This program will allow for partnerships, innovation and efficiency, and more importantly, it will allow us to work together, as a community, to pave a better future for our children," Senator Hinojosa concluded.