'College for Texans' Seeks to Reverse Alarming Trend in Texas Higher Education

Laredo education leaders recently launched local efforts, part of an unprecedented statewide campaign called "College for Texans," aimed at encouraging hundreds of thousands of additional Texans to pursue higher education over the next decade and beyond.

Local leaders and champions of higher education boarded a traditional yellow school bus dubbed the "Higher Education Express" to visit two Laredo elementary schools campuses to encourage students to stay in school and pursue higher education.

"College for Texans," authorized by the Texas Legislature last year, is directed by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Local THECB Member Dr. Ricardo G. Cigarroa said the innovative campaign is designed to encourage, motivate and inspire.

" 'College for Texans' will motivate primary and secondary students to prepare and aim for college; inspire parents, relatives, teachers, counselors, and other communities to support each child's aspirations to prepare for and enroll in post-secondary education; and ensure that colleges and universities reach out to embrace those students," said Dr. Cigarroa.

The slogans for the campaign are: Education. Go Get It, and La Educación. Saber es Poder.

Texas A&M International University president Dr. Ray Keck said that despite record high enrollment, these increases are not in sync with the State's tremendous population growth.

"Although more people than ever are enrolled in Texas colleges and universities, the increases haven't kept pace with the state's population growth, putting the state on a path to becoming less educated and less prosperous," said Dr. Keck.

"Our challenge is to ensure that people from all groups and in all regions of the state know that higher education is possible for them, and that they should pursue it," said THECB director Don Brown, "Many students and their families believe that higher education is not affordable, or that it is too difficult for them. We must provide them with better information about how to prepare financially and academically for college, as well as encourage them to take the necessary steps to enroll and succeed in college. This campaign will help us do that."

The campaign is a key strategy identified in the state's Closing the Gaps by 2015 education plan, which was adopted by the Coordinating Board in October 2002 and has become widely accepted throughout the state. The plan calls for closing student participation and success gaps within the state and when Texas is compared with other states by 2015.

For more information, call College for Texans at 1-888-311-8881 or visit www.collegefortexans.com

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