Only 72.5% of Texas students obtained a high school diploma according to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Texas ranks a disappointing 35th out of the 50 states in dropout rates. At present there are 119,000 Texas teens--a population roughly the size of McAllen--who are not in school and who are not working. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Texas ranks an alarming 48th out of the 50 states in teen pregnancy rates and Texas has the highest rate of repeat teen pregnancies in the nation.
The State Board of Education must address these crises with the urgency that they demand. That means insisting on credible dropout reporting data. That means working with school districts and with the Texas legislature to close the school achievement gap. That means building upon the 4x4 curriculum to offer Texas students multiple, inspiring pathways to success. And school districts must be granted the option to deliver a comprehensive, abstinence-plus health curriculum.