The email below was sent to me Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis [SD-13]. I’ve reproduced it as best I can, but it’s missing significant graphics and some links. I feel that it is nonetheless worth reading ~ Mike
October 17, 2014
Higher education is expensive. As a father with two children seeking degrees and two more who are on their way, I know this personally.
I also know that attending a public four year college or university in Texas has gotten much more expensive over the past decade. In fact, the statewide average academic charges for a student taking 15 credit hours at a public university increased 104 percent from 2003 to 2013 – more than doubling in just ten years!
At the same time, our state has some very real workforce needs that simply aren’t being met.
In an effort to address these two linked issues, Representative Sarah Davis and I passed legislation last session to carefully examine the possibility of authorizing an alternative pathway for students to obtain a four year degree.
This legislation was SB 414, and it directed the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to study workforce needs to determine the regions of the state that would benefit by allowing community colleges to offer baccalaureate degree programs (four year degrees) in nursing or applied sciences. The bill also required the Coordinating Board to examine appropriate metrics to determine whether a community college should even offer those degree programs in the first place.
The resulting study focused on nursing and four applied sciences: computer and information technology, management in fire sciences, management of production/operations technicians, and health information technology. It was completed in August, and as the author of SB 414, I truly appreciate the thoughtful and well-balanced study that was conducted by the RAND Corporation, the Texas Higher Education Policy Institute, and Coordinating Board staff.
The thoroughness of the study ultimately led the Coordinating Board to recommend that the legislature authorize community colleges that meet certain criteria to have opportunities for new baccalaureate degrees in applied science and nursing programs – provided there’s a demonstrated workforce need and the schools use a measured, phased-in approach. In addition, the Coordinating Board recommended that each biennium they be able to select 3 to 5 additional disciplines to study in applied sciences, thus allowing the Coordinating Board to consider adding additional degrees in this field in future years.
More than 20 states, including Texas, already allow at least some community colleges to offer four year degrees. In 2003, Texas authorized three community colleges – Brazosport College, Midland College, and South Texas College – to each offer as many as five baccalaureate programs.
By allowing additional community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees, Texas will be in a better position to meet the workforce needs of employers and businesses across the state. This is especially true for nursing, as data suggests that there are not enough universities and colleges in Texas to meet the need for Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) educated nurses.
This issue is particularly evident in urban areas, like my district, where a large number of hospitals are moving to Magnet Status, which requires 80 percent of all bedside nurses to hold a BSN by 2020. Community colleges are graduating registered nurses with associate degrees, but they’re having a hard time finding a job because most of the institutions are moving to Magnet Status.
This proposal would also provide another avenue for working adults and students that want a more affordable higher education experience to complete a four year degree. Community colleges offer lower costs relative to universities, and they often have more flexibility to offer courses in the evening and on weekends. Community college graduates are also more likely to remain and work in their community, ensuring that the same public that invests in their education also reaps the benefits.
Community colleges could and should be leveraged to provide limited, affordable four-year degrees in areas of the state where needs are the greatest.
Next session, I intend to file legislation to implement these recommendations, as they present a reasonable pathway for the state to address its workforce needs and an additional pathway for students to obtain an affordable four year degree.
- Early voting starts Monday! Early voting for the November 4 election begins on Monday, October 20 and ends on Friday, October 31. Vote early and avoid the possibility of not being able to do so on Election Day! As we celebrate the 49th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, we must all take action to preserve what earlier generations fought so hard to secure. After all, we’ve come a long way to ensure our right to vote is preserved – but we still have a long way to go. The easiest first step is to show up and vote.
- Will you volunteer to give rides to the polls to people who need it most? This election, I’ve stressed that it’s going to take everyone’s vote to change Texas for the better. But some people might need a little help. This is where YOU come in!Volunteer to drive folks to the polls from October 20 – October 31 and Election Day, November 4. Click here to sign up for a shift or two
- Voter ID: what you need to know While ongoing litigation sorts out the future of voter ID, the law is currently in effect and you must comply in order to vote. Voter ID requires all voters to present one of the following forms of photo identification in order to be eligible to vote:
- Driver’s license, election identification certificate, personal identification card, or concealed handgun license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety;
- military identification card containing the person’s photograph;
- citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph; or
With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, all of the forms of identification must be current or have expired no more than 60 days before being presented at the polling place. If you or a family member do not have one of the forms of photo identification listed above, there is a free option available. The change in law creates a new form of photo identification called an election identification certificate, which the Texas Department of Public Safety will issue for free at any driver’s license office. More information may be obtained by clicking here or calling the Texas Secretary of State’s office at 1-800-252-VOTE.
District Office:440 Louisiana, Suite 575, Houston, TX 77002, 713.236.0306
District Office: 2440 Texas Parkway, Suite 110, Missouri City, TX 77489, 281.261.2360
District Office: 6100 Corporate Drive, Suite 288, Houston, TX 77036, 281.564.2228
Capitol Office: P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station, Austin, TX 78711, 512.463.0113
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Click here to watch this Monday’s Senate Higher Education Committee hearing on SB 414. Scroll to the 3h:08m mark.
|[Missing Image]Marisela Carcamo, RN, testified at the SB 414 hearing in support of community colleges being able to offer certain four year degrees.
|This email was sent by firstname.lastname@example.org |Rodney Ellis | 440 Louisiana | Suite 575 | Houston | TX | 77002