Happy end of summer! The last column focused on the new District 2 Alamo College Trustee Jose Macias. I have spoken with Mr. Macias a couple of times since my last writing. Before I dive deep into this subject, let’s set the stage.
In 2015, Texas launched 60x30TX, the state's higher education strategic plan. The 4-part plan states:
1. At least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 will have a certificate or degree.
2. At least 550,000 students in 2030 will complete a certificate, associate, bachelor’s or master’s from an institution of higher education in Texas.
3. All graduates from Texas public institutions of higher education will have completed programs with identified marketable skills.
4. Undergraduate student loan debt will not exceed 60 percent of first- year wages for graduates of Texas public institutions.
According to the 2019 Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Almanac in 2018, a little over 41,000 African Americans completed a certificate or degree program in the state of Texas. The 2030 goal is 76,000. In the Alamo College District for 2018, 8.2% of the enrollment is African-American and the African American graduation rate is 8.1%. Those numbers are representative of our local population. Extremely alarming is the student loan debt as a percentage of first-year wages. State-wide, at 2 year public higher education institutions the ratio is 54% of the first year income is equivalent to student loan debt for African Americans, 39% for Whites, 35% for Hispanics and 40% for others. At 4 year institutions the ratio is 101% of the first year income is equivalent to student loan debt for African Americans, 70% for Whites, 63% for Hispanics and 58% for others.
This disparity could be due to lower wages for African Americans or the knowledge of, application of and/or distribution of scholarships and grants in our community. Whatever the cause, our vigilance is needed to ensure the percentage gap decreases to an amount that is on par with other ethnicities. It is hard to get ahead when we are starting out so far behind!
The 60x30TX plan also mandates colleges in an area of a large concentration of African American males and Hispanics have an outreach program specifically for that population (Higher Education Assistance Programs). The Alamo Colleges are a part of the 60x30TX plan. Part of the trustees’ mission is to ensure the colleges are executing to be on par with the statewide goals.
Trustee Macias said his priority is to connect to the community. His current role connects him with a third of District 2 with his work at Judson ISD. He is committed to spending the first 100 days meeting people and listening to what matters. Mr. Macias will consider the community’s feedback in developing his vision for his new position. He is looking at scheduling a town hall meeting at St. Philip’s College in October. Increased educational attainment and successful college or certification program completion for Alamo College students is at the top of his list. He is also concerned and will look to increasing the number of African American businesses as vendors/contractors for Alamo Colleges.
As you saw in last week’s issue, Mr. Macias now has a column in the Observer. His first article included his cell phone number. He seems interested in our concerns. Hopefully, he will use this platform to share additional ideas from our conversations. Villagers, we have an opportunity to share our concerns and hold him accountable to our needs. We cannot afford to let this opportunity pass. The sustainment of our village depends on us!
THIS WEEK’S CALL TO ACTION:
1. Read Mr. Macias’ article from last week here: Who is Jose Macias?
2. Judson ISD has an application for School Board Trustee in District 4. The application deadline is September 23 at 9:00 AM. For more information visit https://www.judsonisd.org/Page/23388 . Please share this information. Our children are depending on us!
3. Explore the Scobee Educational Center at San Antonio College, for their Friday evening programming. Tickets prices are $2-$5. For more information, sascobee.org. Remember to share your photos with us.