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Opportunity for Houston’s Communities

By Urban Reform Staff | Jan 30, 2020

Last week, I had the chance take part in a panel with Dr. Rod Paige, former U.S. Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush; George Foreman, 2x World Heavyweight Champion; and State Rep. Harrold Dutton at Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 2020 Policy Orientation.

about the obstacles and opportunities for communities in Houston.

The purpose of the panel was to discuss how small government produces opportunities, and eliminates obstacles for inner city communities to thrive.

While dropout rates in Texas are disconcerting, 96 percent of students participating in Career, Technology, or Education (CTE) programming graduate high school. These programs consist of skills training and other non college-track work. In fact, the two programs producing the lowest dropout rate for Texas high school students, 1 percent and less than 1 percent, respectively, are CTE programs and military-connected programs.

“If we have a student who’s participating in career, technology, and education and or both CTE and military program that student has over a 99 percent chance of graduating high school,” said Dr. Richard Johnson of TPPF’s Booker T. Washington Institute.

So why don’t school’s look more towards these programs as a solution?

The Sunnyside neighborhood of Houston, the sixth most dangerous community to live in in America, and one with a high dropout rate only has 10 percent participation in CTE programming. To combat this this disparity, Foreman said that’s why he created his youth and community center.

As for the lack of innovation in school district’s when it comes to trying new ways to enhance graduation rates, Dr. Paige said that the problem is school boards and a lack of interest in the electorate in board elections.

“Do we pay attention to the voting process? Do we understand who the candidates are that we are voting for? Do we pay attention to how the governors conduct themselves? That’s the problem, we can argue about the results of the school, but we’re the problem.”

One of the other issues was the inability to economically and socially advance in inner cities. While social issues are one reason, local government’s regularly make it hard to advance by levying land use regulations and regulations that limit the creation of business.

Rep. Dutton discussed the need for information. In 36 states, he said, black boys find themselves at the bottom in terms of education, but it isn’t viewed as a crisis. “People accept the fact that black boys are not learning in schools.”

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