Five Blinn College District students have taken a course project beyond the classroom to affect change in the Texas education system.
Sophomores Phoebe Cash (College Station) and Haylie Kelley (Beaumont), freshmen Caleb Caffey (Montgomery) and Bailey Collins (Dripping Springs), and dual credit student Alex Sylvester (Bryan) teamed up this spring for a project in their Texas Government course in which they identified a political issue, conducted research to determine possible solutions, and worked to solve the problem through the formation of an interest group.
The group focused on public education curriculum reform, naming their interest group Preparation and Advocacy for Student Success (PASS). They collected various forms of data, including an interview with the director of College Station ISD’s Career and Technical Education Program, interviews with high school principals and teachers, as well as surveys to gauge opinions on whether life preparatory classes where necessary for Texas high school students.
The students established a platform for PASS, lobbying for basic life skills classes, such as personal finance, career and college preparation, and home economics, to be incorporated into ninth- through 12th-grade curriculum.
“An overwhelming number of individuals we interviewed and surveyed agreed that it is very important that young people become equipped with these skills at an early age,” Kelley said. “They will know how to function more independently and can enjoy other aspects of their life without worrying about basic life skills.”
Assembling the project ignited a passion in the group. They decided their venture was more than a class assignment, and signed up to speak at a recent meeting of the State Board of Education (SBOE) in Austin.
On behalf of her team, Cash delivered a presentation to the board, proposing a graduated high school degree plan where student take at least one life preparatory course each year they are in high school.
Following the presentation, the group was pulled aside by District 11 board member Patricia Hardy, who praised their presentation and urged the group to bring the issue to the attention of the state legislature in Austin.
“Spending an entire day at the SBOE meeting gave us an opportunity to network with the majority of the board members and Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath,” Cash said. “It was a very eye-opening, exciting experience.”
Thanks to the encouragement from Government Professor Gilbert Schorlemmer and local politicians, the group will continue its research and push for changes in the public education system.
“This experience has united five very different individuals to advocate for an initiative that we all believe in,” Sylvester said. “We chose a project we were passionate and excited about, so we really invested our time into this cause.”
Registration is now open for Blinn’s Summer and Fall semesters. The Summer I semester runs June 4-July 2, the Summer II semester will be July 5-Aug. 2, and the Fall semester begins Aug. 27. Registration for each semester is available until the first day of class.
For enrollment information and to learn about financial aid opportunities, visit: www.blinn.edu. Story and photo courtesy of Blinn College.