With the start of the new school year, I want to wish our students continued success as they embark on another year of learning, opportunity, and lifelong memories. As students pour into the hallways and classrooms of schools across the state, I also want to acknowledge and sincerely thank the teachers, faculty, and administrators who have worked tirelessly to prepare for the new school year. These men and women play such a critical role in shaping our children’s future, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their dedicated service.
With that, we’ll dive back into our examination of House interim charges. . .
House Interim Charge: Higher Education
This week, our featured interim committee is the House Committee on Higher Education. This eleven-member committee has purview over all colleges, universities, and all other post-secondary education. The Committee also oversees the work of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and numerous university extension agencies, such as the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.
Throughout the interim, the Committee on Higher Education is tasked with overseeing the implementation of SB 1102, which established the Texas Reskilling and Upskilling through Education (TRUE) Program. The TRUE program is a collaboration between colleges and business partners across the state to quickly and efficiently teach Texans the skills needed in high-demand industry occupations that have been displaced because of the recent pandemic. Additionally, in a joint interim charge with the House Committee on Public Education, members have been asked to evaluate the pandemic’s impact on our state’s teacher workforce and explore options to improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality educators.
Another piece of legislation on the Committee’s radar is SB 1295, which creates financial incentives for comprehensive regional universities based on the success of at-risk students. Comprehensive regional universities educate almost 40% of the state’s university students and overwhelmingly serve students from the areas surrounding their campuses. These universities are essential to our local economies as well as our state’s developing workforce needs.
Over the interim, the Committee on Higher Education will also review the progress of the 60×30 Texas Plan, a goal set by the state in 2015 to have at least 60% of Texans ages 25-34 hold a certificate or degree by 2030. With an ever-evolving job market, the 60×30 Plan creates an ambitious blueprint to not only address the workforce needs of a rapidly growing state, but also help sustain prosperity for future generations by creating a pipeline of highly skilled professionals to harness the power of technology and innovation. Importantly, the Committee will also examine the rising costs of higher education and make recommendations on how the State of Texas can help reduce the cost of a quality education.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.