by Susan Combs
There is one thing that virtually everyone agrees on. Employers who need to fill good paying jobs all need one thing: a well-educated workforce. And that means a whole slew of types and varieties of education. Some jobs need advanced degrees, while others need training on sophisticated equipment.
And our education system is working hard in a rapidly changing workforce environment to deliver it. The state legislature lays down broad policies, but at the end of the day, decisions about public schools are mostly local decisions. And schools perform differently. Texas is unusual in that there are very good tools out there to help parents, employers and everyone else look at schools, and see how they spend your taxpayer money and get educational results for our kids.
In 2010, we created a new tool for parents and taxpayers with our FAST website (Financial Allocation Study for Texas) that allows you to see how your local public school performs relative to its peers. This is a unique tool and has been widely recognized across the country for its innovative approach. You can take a look here: www.FASTexas.org.
Our three sons all attended public school and I wanted to be sure they were getting the best education possible. That meant I had to see what was in each child’s backpack, know the teachers, and be an involved parent. I wanted each son to achieve his best, no matter what path he took.
This is critical. The most important legacy we leave for all Texas children is a path to a bright future. It is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. There are many paths for Texans and I certainly believe that there should be a path for everyone – lots of different paths. To achieve that, Texas has made a unique commitment to fund sophisticated and technical equipment for community colleges through a statewide program – Jobs and Education for Texans (JET).
Earning those funds is a competitive process, and the community colleges that apply for the funding have to demonstrate that there are high-paying, and high-demand jobs for the trained workforce. By January of 2015, we will have granted nearly $27 million for this equipment fund, which will train a total of about 69,000 Texans. The great news is that, on average, each trained individual will get an estimated $22,000 increase in his or her annual salary.
That is significant and important because it helps ensure our young and growing workforce will be ready for demanding, high-skill jobs with good salaries. Texas needs to continue creating the jobs that grow our economy – and give our youngest Texans a brighter future. That’s part of the Lone Star Success story. And continuing it is a very good thing.
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Click here to read more about Texas’ Lone Star Success.