San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

April 16th, 2009
Letter to the Editor: Support the Bobcat Promise Program

To the Editor:

The problems with the economy are not new to the people who live in the United States. Even if you do not know the basics, you know that somewhere along the way things went wrong. Now the nation and its leaders are at a scramble to make things right once again. Men and women with bachelors and master degrees and decades of work experience under their belt are being let go from work places across the United States.

According to the United States Department of Labor, the unemployment rate is at a 25-year high and companies have gotten rid of about 4.4 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. In a time where millions of Americans are competing for a limited amount of positions, the need for higher education has never been so great.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 28.5 percent of San Marcos’ population fall below the poverty line and of that number 22.1 percent are under the age of 18. With those statistics, San Marcos is the poorest city in the San Antonio and Austin corridor.

Texas State University, San Marcos CISD and Austin Community College have been working in collaboration to make it possible for the youth of San Marcos to receive some kind of higher education. San Marcos CISD and Austin Community College (ACC) have been collaborating to create the Early College Start program at ACC. In this program, high school students who have successfully completed their sophomore year, passed the appropriate sections on required assessments mandated by ACC and have permission from their parents and high school counselor and principal can take up to two ACC courses each semester of school.

In December 2008, Texas State University announced their San Marcos Bobcat Promise Program. Beginning Fall 2009, the university has pledged to pay tuition and mandatory fees for new resident freshman from San Marcos High School whose families have adjusted gross incomes of $35,000 or less. To remain eligible in the program students must complete 30 semester credit hours during each academic year, maintain a cumulative Texas State GPA of at least 2.0 and continue to have a family adjusted gross income of $35,000 or less.

With all that San Marcos is doing for its youth to expose and encourage them to pursue higher education, only 26 percent of the population hold a bachelor’s degree. Many opportunities are available to the youth, yet the numbers are not reflecting any increases, one can only wonder-what more can we do?

Kim Porterfield, director of Community Relations at Texas State University, helps conduct College Awareness Tours for the San Marcos youth. Students come to the university, sometimes as young as 9 years old, and given a campus tour, campus advisers and find out basics about college life.

“This is all part of the College for Texans statewide campaign that was launched in 2002. We’ve been doing these tours for almost seven years now and I can see the excitement on their faces when they arrive but to see those numbers…it’s a little disappointing,” Porterfield said.

One can only hope that when the San Marcos Bobcat Promise Program takes flight in Fall 2009, the San Marcos youth will take advantage of the educational opportunities presented to them. If not, let us know what more can be done to ensure the success of our future generation. After all, it is this generation that the burden or success of our economy will depend on.

Leslie Ornelas
San Marcos

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