FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2013
General Counsel & Press Secretary
AUSTIN — Today, a bill by Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) supporting business investment in Texas early college high schools unanimously passed the Texas Senate. The bill would require the state to develop a plan to incentivize businesses to help develop these schools.
"Texas early college high schools do tremendous work giving our young people a head-start on their post-secondary education. Students at these schools are challenged with advanced courses, while saving their families money on college tuition. Thus, they are better equipped for and more excited about entering higher education," Senator Lucio said. "Businesses should want these schools to succeed and multiply; they help us better grow our own college- and career-ready workforce."
Texas early college high schools partner with colleges to allow students an opportunity to earn along with their high school diploma 60 college credit hours tuition-free. According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), there are 65 early college high school campuses in the state. These include campuses in Senator Lucio's Senate District 27: Brownsville Early College High School; Harlingen CISD Early College High School; Mercedes Early College Academy; Progresso Early College High School Academy; and four campuses in Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, PSJA Memorial Early College High School, PSJA North High School, PSJA Southwest Early College High School, and PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School.
Under current law, TEA is permitted to accept gifts, grants, and donations to pay for costs not already covered by the state. To date, no such donations have been made, according to TEA.
Senate Bill 1557 would require TEA, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) to develop a strategic plan to incentivize private industry participation in early college high schools. The plan must include ways to incentivize businesses and nonprofits to choose to both make contributions to early college high schools, and to work with early college high schools to maximize job placement opportunities for their graduates. TEA, TWC, and HECB must make their strategic plan available on each agency's Web site by December 1, 2014.
The bill also amends the Texas Education Code to provide that private and nonprofit organizations that donate to early college high schools are entitled to an Employers for Education Excellence Award. The award's current purpose is to honor Texas employers who support voluntarism in the public schools.
"Early College High Schools are making a major difference for students who might not otherwise complete college. Senate Bill 1557 provides opportunities for business and industry to partner more deeply in this work. A strong partnership with the private sector will accelerate the growth and development of early college high schools and have significant impact on the shortage of highly educated and skilled workers. I fully support Senate Bill 1557," said Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD Superintendent Dr. Daniel P. King.
"Early college high schools present a great opportunity for our students to not only gain credit at the high school level but also at the college level. Their education becomes more purposeful because as part of their study they're looking at careers they may pursue after completing post-secondary study. I think that if businesses support these schools, everyone will win; not only students, but also the business community and Texas' economy," said Brownsville Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Carl A. Montoya.
Now passed out of the Senate, Senate Bill 1557 moves to the Texas House of Representatives.