News Roundup: Community College In Amarillo Could Be National Model For Addressing Student Poverty

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJune 12, 2018 1:55 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

More than half of the country’s community college students experience food insecurity, housing insecurity – or both. A new study finds that efforts to address poverty at a community college in the Texas Panhandle could serve as a national model.

Clare Cady is one of the authors of this report, and the Director of Research Application and Dissemination at Temple University’s HOPE Center for College, Community, and Justice. She explains they looked at Amarillo College as a case study, since the school’s leadership launched a “No Excuses Poverty Initiative” nearly 10 years ago.

“What they’ve done is they’ve actually taken the time to get to know their students well and understand what the barriers the students are facing for success, from the students themselves,” Cady says. “And they found that the barriers that students are facing and not necessarily what we would consider traditional academic barriers.”

She says the students weren’t worried about tutoring or test scores. Instead, they were concerned about childcare, food, housing, and transportation.

“And all of these other things that we might not consider academic needs but these students aren’t able to be successful academically unless these needs are met,” Cady says. “And so, the No Excuses Poverty Initiative came out of that and they really focus on a theory of change, that if they can remove these poverty barriers for students, then students can be successful in college.”

Cady explains that Amarillo College came up with one of the most comprehensive strategies to address poverty on campus that she’s seen at the community college level. It includes an Advocacy and Resource Center that has a food bank, a clothing closet, and an emergency grant program, for example. But she says it goes further than that by creating a “culture of caring.”

“So the campus leadership has included this in their strategic plan,” Cady says. “They have changed all of their campus values to align with what students have told them would be their ideal college.”

Students at Amarillo College are predominantly Latinx and come from low-income homes. More than 70 percent are the first in their family to attend college. Cady says while it’s too early in the data collection process to tell how much the “No Excuses Poverty Initiative” is impacting student retention, it seems to be helping. Averaged over a three-year period, students receiving some kind of support from the Advocacy and Resource Center or No Excuse fund, were about 5 percent more likely to stay in school from fall to spring, and fall-to-fall retention grew by a little over 1 percent.

Driving as a teenager can sometimes be, well, a little bit scary.

That’s illustrated pretty clearly in this hilarious scene from the movie, Clueless, when Dionne, Cher, and Murray accidentally end up on an LA freeway. Screaming quickly ensues.

But Texas teens are in luck. According to the finance site, WalletHub, Texas is the 10th best state for young drivers based on factors such as number of fatalities, the average cost of car repairs, and insurance.

The states that ranked higher than Texas include Hawaii, California, Oregon, Louisiana, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Washington, and New York. As if.

Today is former President George H.W. Bush’s birthday.

At 94 years old, The Washington Post reports, he’s the first former-president to reach that age. Former President Jimmy Carter is right on Bush’s heels though – he’s 93 years old. Carter’s birthday is October 1.