THS hosts Congressional hearing


Student journalists talk to U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall after the Congressional Hearing on STEM Education in Action on Sept. 26.

Story by Emily Hoover, Co-editor in chief

Texas High School Performing Arts Center became a tiny part of political history on Sept. 26. It housed a Congressional Hearing on the STEM Education In Action: Committee Preparing for Jobs of the Future.

Speakers included U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall; Cora Marrett, Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation; James Henry Russell, President of Texarkana College; Brad Johnson, President of Northeast Texas Community College; C.B. Rathburn, President of Texas A&M University — Texarkana; Pam Kennedy, Vice President of Human Resources at CHRISTUS St. Michael; Myron Barnett, Human Resource Manager at International Paper; and Dennis Washington, Chairman of TexAmericas.

As far as STEM goes, Rep. Hall believes we are doing a wonderful job.

“We were the first,” Hall said, “and we are the best.”

The committee discussed how community colleges are improving the future by educating students in areas of math, science and technology.

“Community colleges are essential for community development,” Marrett said. “Community colleges are a bargain, and they are accessible. [They] provide a gateway to millions of Americans for a better life. Community colleges contribute a great deal to the STEM education pathway.”

Community colleges are now working on creating a better and brighter technologically, mathematically inclined workforce.

“The U.S. continues to face a shortage of STEM educators,” Rathburn said. “We are an institution of access. [We are working on] reversing the declining tide of STEM education.”

These programs are important because the economy of the United States, and even that of Texarkana, can not survive without more STEM educated college-graduates ready to step into the workforce.

“It is imperative that we continue to have STEM education available,” Kennedy said. “[We must make ourselves] attractive to medical tourism, and we can’t do that without advanced technology.”

And, because of the large number required to sustain such fast-growing new careers, STEM needs to be made available to all.

“Our top students are often the ones who take advantage of those DC hours,” Johnson said. “In STEM, we need far bigger numbers–we can’t compete over the top ten percent of our students.”

Community colleges are one of the biggest ways the United States is moving toward educating in the STEM fields. It is up to these organizations to insure that the future will remain bright.

“The demand for community colleges is growing throughout this country,” Russell said. “We’re very lucky in the Texarkana area to have such wonderful educational opportunities. Life is changing, and we need to have opportunities that meet for all.”