Going to college is a calculated financial risk for most families. For Texas, the economic challenge could derail the state’s progress.
Former state demographer Steve Murdoch is now a professor at Rice University. He says that education is important for individuals and states.
“Education is the single best predictor of socioeconomic success,” Murdoch says. “So, having an educated population is very key to having a competitive population and to ensuring a bright future for your citizens.”
Althought the Texas Education Agency released figures that 88.3 percent of Texas students graduated in 2014, Murdoch says the numbers do not refect the population as a whole.
“Due to a variety of historical, discriminatory and other factors, there are vast differences in the educational attainment levels of our population,” he says.
According to Murdoch, 40 percent of Hispanics in Texas had less than high school level of education in 2010. For non-Hispanic whites? Only 8 percent.
“So, the problem is that our fastest-growing populations – and that is by far the Hispanic population – is having the most difficulty in terms of educational attainment,” he says.
When it comes to changing higher education through lawmakers in Texas, Murdoch says to keep in mind that colleges and universities have a large part to play in setting tuition rates.
“The figure that just jumps out and bites you is the fact that if you look from 2000 to 2010 . . . state support for higher education decreased in real dollars by 28 percent,” he says.
Listen to the full interview in the player above.