The statistics seem overwhelming. As stated in The Today Foundations April whitepaper:
- Over 30% of our Texas children cannot read a simple children’s book. This is true for our 4th graders, 8th graders, even our 12th graders. What is equally shocking is that many have known this fact for over four decades and nothing has changed*.
- More than 118,000^ students did not graduate from Texas’ high schools in 2008**.
- More than 40% of Texas students who dropped-out had limited reading skills*.
- The lost lifetime earnings for Texas students who dropped out prior to their scheduled graduation in 2008 totals more than $30.7 billion**. More than $46 billion would be added to Texas’ economy by 2020 if students of color graduated from high school at the same rate as white students**.
- The Texas state economy would see a combination of savings and revenue
of more than $691 million in reduced crime and increased earnings each year if the male high school graduation rate increased by just 5%**.
The Chamber has a fall education line-up that is taking the need for education reform seriously. We know that real change comes in the form of a systemic approach, but to have lasting change that benefits students, all stakeholders need to play a part. For example, Dallas ISD alone serves over 160,000 students across 226 schools. That is quite the undertaking. Teachers cannot be expected to meet the needs of each of these students on their own. Moreover, these students are being trained to enter into the area workforce.
There are numerous things you can do to help. The first step is to become acquainted with the education system in the area. Come find out the facts about what is really happening in the world of education around you. We are bringing Dr. Michael Hinojosa, Superintendent of Schools for Dallas ISD along with Dr. Mike Moses who served as District Superintendent from 2001-2004 and Dr. Linus Wright, who served as District Superintendent from 1978-1987 together for a panel discussion on the district’s past, where it is presently and what the future for the 12th largest school district in the nation entails. You can be part of that future along with touching the futures of so many children. Dr. Michael Hinojosa was quoted in a Dallas Morning News article describing education as the “great equalizer. . .That's how to break the cycle of poverty: through education."
The second step is to get involved. The Chamber has multiple programs to help reach these students or even work with principals. You can be part of a taskforce that is taking issues like financial aid being a barrier to students attending institutions of higher education and is putting up a fight.
Whatever your area of expertise, it will take all of us playing a small role to see large change. We invite you into the fight for these students to have the opportunities that they deserve.
Another issue that the Chamber will address in October is reading failure and the effect it has on society. On October 22, Dr. Reid Lyon, a Distinguished Professor of Education Leadership and Policy at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and a Distinguished Scientist in the School of Brain and Behavior Sciences at the University of Texas, Dallas will be addressing the need for leadership in education. Illiteracy should not be affecting our region the way that it is, but the fact remains that illiteracy affects this region to this day. How can we put a stop to this? Join us to learn more.
We have the opportunity to come together to discuss education issues and topics thanks to an IBM sponsored luncheon on September 24. Join us at our Education Roundtable luncheon where area superintendents will talk about challenges their districts are facing.
Visit www.dallaschamber.org to find out more information on these programs and events or contact email@example.com.
*Center for Educational Statistics (2007). The Nation’s Report Card (Texas Snapshot). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office
**Alliance for Excellent Education (200*). Federal High School Graduation Rate Policies and the Impact on Texas. Washington, DC
^ Figure reflects the number of Texas students who entered the 9th grade in 2004-2005 as members of the class of 2008. To be counted as a dropout, a student could not have been retained. If expelled, a student was not counted as a member of the cohort or as a dropout. A transfer student could only be counted as a drop out if the school and the state did not verify receiving school and record of graduation. (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2009)