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Texas Education Reform Means Business Leaders and Educators Must Cooperate

Business leaders and educators in Texas are coming together to talk about how they can better cooperate following the passage of sweeping education reforms.  Those reforms, known as House Bill 5, are designed to move the state away from the college-for-all policy and toward a more flexible model where the skilled trades are promoted as real options.  As Construction Citizen readers know, we're passionate about the idea that there is a path to success for just about everyone even if that path doesn't require a four-year degree.

That's why I'm proud to announce Construction Citizen and its publisher are teaming up with the organizers of a summit in Houston on November 5 to spur this important dialogue.  Registration is now open for the Building Careers: Construction Workforce Luncheon which will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center.  Businesses that will hire the kids in the future and educators who are teaching them right now in high schools around Houston are set to talk about the kind of cooperation that needs to happen.  Mike Holland with Marek Brothers Systems in Houston said it's pretty straightforward:

“I believe educators and business need to actively participate in formal alliances intended to share each other’s needs.  Business can articulate career paths for future employees and the skills and certifications necessary to be successful and productive employees.  Educators can inform business what kind of support they need in the way of co-ops, internships, etc. to make the learning experience more practical.  Educators can also be made aware of their ability to promote the development of specific careers by acting as responsible construction owners on their own projects, requiring the certifications they are providing to students for contractors working on school projects.”

I asked Mike what he would say to those who think Texas is going backward by doing this?  Some argue that we should be putting more kids into four-year universities to be able to compete globally.  He replied:

“Texas is missing the boat on both ends of the spectrum.  Certainly higher levels of academic achievement, particularly in math and science, should be promoted, and we need to improve in this area.  Many students however, are looking for different skill sets and careers not requiring four-year college degrees, and are opting out of even completing high school – often becoming a burden on society instead of becoming productive workers with rewarding careers.  A substantial part of Texas and US industry requires specific skill training which just isn't available in traditional four-year colleges.  That's one huge reason we're facing severe shortages of these kinds of workers.  Much of our state and nation’s ability to compete globally is based on an available, productive blue collar workforce.”
The discussion on November 5 will include Mike Holland, Pasadena School Superintendent Kirk Lewis, State Representative John Davis, Jim Stevenson of McCarthy Building Company and the Construction Career Collaborative, Michael Gremillion of ISC Constructors, Scott Lemoine of LyondellBasell, and Spencer Moore of MD Anderson.

Register online by Friday, November 1st.  For more information, please contact Joyce Denison (j.denison@abchouston.org | 832-389-5107).  Hope to see you there.

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