A closer look: Supporting frontline workers
With the legislative session entering its final days, we focus this week on the pathways to success that could be opened for the state’s frontline workers.
Texas teachers are a lifeline for our youngest Texans. Supporting the largest teacher workforce in the country remains a priority for the Legislature.
- Lawmakers are working to improve educator preparation programs, compensation for our most effective instructors, and working conditions to strengthen teacher quality and retention.
- The state is also focused on incentivizing districts to use more instructional materials that provide an appropriate grade-level curriculum, which would free up teachers’ time otherwise spent searching for materials.
👩🏼🏫 Did you know? According to the governor’s Teacher Vacancy Task Force, 31% of new hires in school year 2021-22 were teachers re-entering the profession.
Nurses are some of our most essential frontline workers, a notion that was underscored by their tireless efforts to save lives in the pandemic.
- Efforts are underway to prioritize nurses by encouraging more Texans to enter the profession through various financial resources for nurses and nursing programs, including nursing student scholarships, loan repayment programs for nurses and grants for nursing education programs.
- The state is facing a significant nursing shortage, making it even more urgent to encourage more Texans to enter and stay in the profession.
👩⚕️ Did you know? Nearly 90% of Texas counties — 224 of the state’s 254 counties — are classified as primary care shortage areas, meaning that there are not enough doctors available to meet the needs of the population.
Law Enforcement Officers
The foundation of public safety is the public’s trust and confidence in its law enforcement officers, the vast majority of whom serve honorably and would benefit from the following sensible reforms.
- Sunset legislation extending the life of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement would add new checks to address wandering officers, improve misconduct investigations and reporting, and set up a framework for the commission to become a data-driven agency.
- Texans deserve a modern and transparent system to oversee its officers and agencies. Reform would raise minimum standards for creating and continuing law enforcement agencies and create new standards for individual licensed peace officers.
🤔 Did you know? Every state agency must undergo a periodic sunset review after which lawmakers must vote to continue an agency’s existence. Reviews typically occur every 12 years, but the length of time is at the Legislature’s discretion.
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Child caseworkers are important because they care for the most vulnerable among us. Lawmakers supported them in the past with better pay and by lowering caseloads.
- Lawmakers can further support frontline caseworkers by upgrading the IT infrastructure that they can take into the field to better document their interactions with children and their families.
- Giving child caseworkers more modern tools to do their jobs more effectively helps both the caseworker and the children they serve.
📱 Did you know? Caseworkers currently rely on software technology that predates the widespread adoption of the smartphone.
Water operators will be crucial to the continued operation of water systems across the state. Efficient water systems will be vital to meet this elemental need for the future of our state.
- Lawmakers are looking to remove unnecessary barriers to enter the workforce, allowing students who are still in high school to earn a certification for operating wastewater systems.
- Jobs like these are key to getting Texans on the first steps of a career ladder and the goal of earning a self-sustaining wage.
👏 Did you know? Lawmakers are also close to finishing work on a historic investment of potentially billions of dollars in expanding the state’s water supply and fixing aging, leaky water systems across the state.
State Employees – Entry-level IT
Credentialing programs also offer a way to encourage the education-to-workforce pipeline in the information technology field.
- Lawmakers are looking to establish a state credential that would provide Texans with higher education programs that include one-year apprenticeships for entry-level IT positions at a state agency, ultimately creating educational pathways to enter the IT career field with less than a four-year degree.
- More Texans will be able to start a career in an emerging field and state agencies can begin to address the gap caused by a shortage of qualified candidates for IT jobs and the strains compounded by an aging workforce at state agencies.
👏 Did you know? Lawmakers are also supporting all state employees through pay raises in the state budget and a proposal to extend parental leave to all state employees.
Has a teacher, nurse or other frontline worker had an impact on your life?
Tell us! We’ll highlight the best story in a future issue!
🧑⚖️ The work of Texas 2036, though, doesn’t end after lawmakers adjourn sine die on the final day of the legislative session. We’ll keep tracking how the decisions made this session impact the lives of everyday Texans.
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