Texas Education and Workforce: Meeting Future Needs

The following is part two of a three-part summary of Texas 2036 Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy John Hryhorchuk’s testimony to the Texas Commission on Virtual Education on June 29, 2022.

Established by House Bill 3643 (87R), the Texas Commission on Virtual Education is charged with developing and making recommendations regarding the delivery of virtual education in the public school system and state funding for virtual education under the Foundation School Program.

Consisting of 13 appointed members, the commission meets once a month to review the state of virtual education in Texas and recommend statutory changes regarding the delivery and funding of virtual education. The Commission is taking a broad look at the past and current uses of virtual education in Texas and the innovative ways it’s being used in other states, including options like self-paced, competency-based, and blended learning.

Texas 2036 Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy John Hryhorchuk was invited to provide testimony on the current workforce challenges in Texas and how virtual education can be leveraged to improve college and career readiness in high school. 

Policy Advisor Madison Yandell breaks down the testimony below. Read part I here.

Steps Taken by the State

The Texas Commission on Virtual Education has a great opportunity to build on some recent successes to better meet future workforce needs.

To help ensure the more than $110.6 billion spent annually on our workforce pipeline is expended in an aligned and coordinated fashion, last session Sen. Paul Bettencourt and Rep. Jim Murphy passed an important bill — HB 3767 — known as the Texas Education and Workforce Alignment Act. 

This large and comprehensive bill took two important steps:

  • It codified the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative, permanently requiring interagency cooperation between the Texas Education Agency, Higher Education Coordinating Board and Workforce Commission.
  • It required the Tri-Agency to adopt unified workforce goals and unified strategies to achieve them, which is critical to ensure all the oars are rowing in the same direction.

A key element to these goals is that all three agencies should be trying to achieve 60×30 — the state’s higher education plan for at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 to have a certificate or degree by 2030 — regardless of where a student is in the pipeline. For the virtual education commission, this means the Higher Education Coordinating Board and Workforce Commission accomplish their goals when students hit career benchmarks in high school, with all the agencies working toward those common aims.

The passage of House Bill 3 in the 86th Session also demonstrated the Legislature’s commitment to better education and workforce alignment with significant investments in college and career readiness through outcomes bonuses and increases in Career and Technical Education funding. Last session’s HB 1525 further refined this funding to make strategic investments that better serve students. 

For more information about the $110.6 billion-plus allocation on Texas’ workforce pipeline, check out the following sources:

Read part III here.