BY CHRISTI KHALAF
Tyler Area Business Education Council
I am honored to be writing a new education and workforce column about one of the most critical, if not the most critical, building blocks of a successful community: Education. Over the course of the next several months, I will be sharing educational data, research and on-the-ground actions that are being used to change the education game across our country, from cradle to career. I hope that the information will provoke conversation, celebration, concern and, in some cases, action.
In Smith County today, approximately 35 percent of residents have successfully completed some form of postsecondary education. Studies from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board show that only 19 percent of our younger generation is graduating high school and earning either a certificate or a degree.
This leakage in the education pipeline has implications not only for the earnings potential of each individual but also for the community as a whole. As the level of education rises in a community, poverty and incarceration rates go down, health goes up, the economy flourishes and the population is more inclined to vote and be involved in community efforts.
In addition, more and more jobs will require education beyond high school. Research shows that by the year 2020, 60 percent of all jobs in the United States will require a postsecondary credential. In 1973, that number was just 28 percent.
The great news is Tyler is poised for success with a number of new facilities, programs and partnerships. Take, for example, the four new educational facilities that are in the works: Tyler ISD’s Career and Technical Education Center, Tyler Junior College’s Energy Center and the Robert M. Rogers Nursing and Health Sciences Center, and the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas at Tyler.
Transformative education models, such as early college high school, soon will launch in the Tyler area. Early college high schools allow students to earn an associate’s degree while still in high school. This model has transformed communities around the nation, particularly in the Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Partnerships are forming throughout the community such as the Business Education Council, which brings together leaders from business, industry, community and education in a collaborative effort to ensure the success of all students. To learn more, please visit the council website tylertexas.com/pages/BusinessEducationCouncil.
In future columns, I will share more about initiatives that are in the works and provide more information on the state of education in our community and across our state and nation. I hope you will continue to read each month and become inspired to help put education to work.
Christi Khalaf is the executive director of the Tyler Area Business Education Council, an initiative of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column will appear monthly in the Learning section.