Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Providing Parallel Pathways to Success and Taking Personal Responsibility

A recent Houston Chronicle article titled, "Poverty, dropout rates bode grim future for state," calls attention to an ever-increasing problem not only in Texas, but also throughout the country - namely, the lack of an educated workforce and the negative consequences to not only affected individuals, but also to our entire economy.

With our increasing population and a rising number of students not taking advantage of our formal education system, alarm bells should be sounding in boardrooms and living rooms across Texas.

At TDA, our economic development team has been working for the past three years on solutions to this tremendous challenge. One such solution is offering Parallel Pathways to Success. This initiative stems from the reality that while a four-year college degree may be the ultimate goal, many students are not on that path. Tangible alternatives that provide parallel pathways are needed to capture students' imaginations, enhance skills and earning capacity, and ultimately fan the flames of productivity and independence that help foster personal responsibility. At TDA, we have provided incentives to public schools that offer students an alternate path to the workforce through career and technical training. Alternate education options with visible, career-enhancing results are clearly more favorable than dropping out.

On top of a dropout problem, Texas, like other states, also struggles with food-insecurity, obesity and underachievement. These issues are not isolated or unrelated, and there are successful programs available to help combat these problems. Ultimately, however, it all boils down to personal responsibility. Government cannot mandate solutions to these problems - the solutions start at home.

Meeting rooms in Washington and Texas do not have all the answers. Our nation's living rooms must provide true leadership and our schools and local businesses must provide partnerships for improving our workforce. Let's make certain our educational programs provide parallel pathways to success, while also making it clear that success is the goal, high standards are our expectations, and Texans will not settle for less.

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