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A Crystal Ball Look at the 2021 Legislative Session

By Chuck Hempstead

TACT Executive Director

I am hopeful that your favorite candidates survived their campaigns and that you voted for the ones who will use their positions to bring back Texas higher education to what it was and what we all need it to be.

Many of us believe that if the virus disappeared tomorrow, society will be forever changed in ways we can’t yet predict. But the American college experience had it right: students and professors interacting personally to exchange knowledge and create new understandings. We’ve been getting away from that with huge classrooms and on-line experiences, but there is no substitute for mentors and their students. We will need financial infusions for our universities at a time when resources may be slim. TACT will continue to advocate for public and private contributions to prepare our next generation of leaders.

For the first time in nine months, the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee recently conducted a hearing at the Capitol. I couldn’t get through the physical barriers with bolt cutters and the agenda was simplified since the original interim charges. Upon returning to my computer, I watched as invited speakers testified remotely about successful programs addressing adult learners. No one thinks the student body is a group of 18-22 year olds. Similarly, senators listened to testimony regarding data transfer issues in order to keep up with students K-12 and beyond because too many young people are becoming lost to the educational system before they can efficiently complete a starter education and begin a career. Senate Bill 25 during the past session addressed these concerns.

There will be a legislative session in January, and universities will again compete for resources with other worthy public goals. There, now you have the sum of my predictions. The crystal ball has been a bit fuzzy lately.

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