WHAT'S NEW . . .
• Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst announced appointments to the Select Committee on Redistricting on June 30, 2010. I am pleased to be one of eleven members appointed to this committee. As you may recall from my January Email Update, the Texas Constitution gives the Legislature the primary responsibility of "redistricting", or changing geographical boundaries of voting districts to equalize populations where census data has indicated an increase, decrease or shift in population. Before the start of the 82nd Session of the Legislature, the Select Committee on Redistricting, chaired by Senator Kel Seliger, will hold hearings across the state to get input from Texans on the best way to draw redistricting maps for the next decade.
•From June 8-10, the Department of Public Safety implemented Roadcheck 2010, a program to check the safety of 18-wheelers. The Roadcheck program stretches from Mexico to Canada. During this period, law enforcement stopped thousands of commercial vehicles to inspect safety equipment, driver log books, driver licenses and endorsements. According to the DPS press release, 1,738 vehicles and 160 drivers were placed temporarily out of service during the three-day campaign.
•The Department of State Health Services is encouraging early vaccination of school children. The Dallas County Health and Human Services Department provides required vaccinations at low cost. Check their clinic schedule for dates, times and locations.
•The Texas Department of Public Safety has expanded the Crime Stoppers hotline to allow citizens to anonymously submit tips on the Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives through the DPS website or via text. From your cell phone, you can text a tip to CRIMES (274637). To submit a tip via the Internet, go to the website http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/wanted/, select the list you want to view (fugitives or sex offenders), then click on the fugitive you have information about and underneath their picture you will find a link that will allow you to submit your tip. Since publication of this opportunity, one of the Texas Most Wanted Sex Offenders has already been apprehended.
FOCUS . . .
On May 24, the Senate's Education and Higher Education committees held a joint hearing to review the state's dual credit program. The main objective of this interim charge was to study the funding sources, cost of delivery, and quality of dual credit courses. Committee members additionally looked into the possibility of expanding the dual credit program into a statewide system. Click here to find audio/video of this hearing. While these committees will be hard at work refining dual credit courses over the interim, I'd like to focus this month on the current opportunities available to high school students through dual credit courses.
In Texas, dual credit is defined as a college course that a high school junior or senior may enroll in and receive both high school and college academic credits. There are several ways to determine a student's eligibility to enroll in a dual credit course, including:
- students that demonstrate college readiness by achieving the minimum passing standard under the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) or
- students that achieve the minimum passing TAKS score, as defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).
As mentioned previously, there is no statewide dual credit program. However, due to college readiness legislation that passed in 2006, school districts are required to offer students the equivalent of 12 college credits in high school. These credits can be offered through dual credit courses, international baccalaureate courses, Advanced Placement courses or advanced technical courses. Additionally, if requested, public institutes of higher education are required to help school districts develop and implement programs that will give high school students the opportunity to receive these mandated credit hours.
The cost of tuition for dual credit courses is decided on the local level. While some courses are funded by the school district, others may rely on the students to pay. Some classes may be offered off-campus, while others may be available on high school campuses. Current law allows high school instructors to teach for a local college to provide dual credit courses. Courses offered for dual credit by community colleges must be identified as college level as defined by the Lower Division Academic Course Guide Manual. Courses offered by public universities must be available in the current course inventory of that university.
There are many advantages to dual credit courses, such as decreasing the cost of tuition for attending a college or university, as well as accelerating the time it takes to complete a degree program. The popularity of these courses has grown steadily since dual credit programs began in 1999. From 1999-2009, dual credit courses saw a 765% increase in enrollment.
I encourage you to check out the opportunities through your local high school or school district. To learn about Dallas County Community College District's Dual Credit Program you can visit their website. You can find additional information on dual credit courses through the THECB.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
•You don't have to travel far to have a vacation this summer. Visit www.traveltex.com for great Texas travel spots. Before you start on your vacation, you can check current road conditions online on the Texas Department of Transportation's website. To search by condition, county or road, visit http://www.txdot.gov/travel/road_conditions.htm.
•Texas has a financial assistance and incentive program for qualified owners of vehicles that fail emissions testing or whose vehicles are at least 10 years old. If your vehicle meets these criteria, you may qualify for up to $600 in repair assistance or up to $3,500 towards replacing your vehicle. The program is called AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine. Call 800-913-3321 or go to www.driveacleanmachine.org for details.
IN CLOSING . . .
I hope you are enjoying the summer! For ideas on how to stay cool, check out Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Splash Texas
, a guide on boating, paddling and swimming around Texas.
State Senator - District 16
|P.O. Box 12068|
Austin, TX 78711
|8080 N. Central Expy.
Suite 1440, LB 44
Dallas, TX 75206
|5401 N. Central Expy.
Dallas, TX 75205