Low educational attainment tends to mean dropping out of school, most jobs being out of reach, being less likely to engage in the community, more likely to go to jail and more likely to have children who don’t graduate.
These were just some of the probabilities Communities in Schools of the Permian Basin Executive Director Eliseo Elizondo presented to the Student Health Advisory Council. Elizondo said those factors can also lead people to engage in more risky behaviors, which can mean the need for more social services.
A nationwide nonprofit organization, Communities in Schools is a dropout prevention program.
Those who graduate from high school and college tend to earn more, are more likely to be insured, have better health, be more civically engaged and have children who graduate.
According to a poll conducted by Communities in Schools, 88 percent of U.S. teachers believe that student poverty is the No. 1 barrier to effective learning in the classroom, Elizondo said.
One out of every five children in the nation lives in poverty; one in four in Texas live in poverty and one in seven in Ector County, Elizondo said. Seventeen percent of all women and girls in Texas live in poverty and it’s even worse if you’re a woman of color, he said.
Hispanic girls and women are more likely to live in poverty and be less educated, Elizondo said. The definition of poverty, he said, is a family of three living on less than $19,096 annually.
“There still remains large gender inequality still exists in childcare, higher education, housing and health insurance …,” he said.
In Texas, 63 percent of workers that earn minimum wage or less are women, according to the 2107 Center for Public Policy Priorities Economic Issues for Women in Texas report, sponsored by the Dallas Women’s Foundation.
Women in Texas on average earn 79 percent (79 cents on the dollar) compared to their male counterparts. That drops to 59 percent for black women and 44 percent for Hispanic women.
Elizondo also reviewed ECISD’s struggles during Thursday’s SHAC meeting. The district has eight schools on improvement required under state accountability standards. Ector Middle School and Noel and Zavala elementary schools are in their fifth year of improvement required. If they do not come off the list, the campuses will face closure or the Texas Education Commissioner will appoint a board of managers over the whole district.
The teacher turnover rate for ECISD is 21 percent, which Elizondo said is above the state average. It is below the state average in terms of graduation rate and average attendance.
Fifty-two percent of students in ECISD are economically disadvantaged, which is below the state average of 59 percent, he said. However, that translates to 16,246 students.
The at-risk population for ECISD is 58 percent, compared to 51 percent statewide, which translates to 18,289 students, he said. Elizondo said he can serve about 800 students right now.
For Elizondo, ground zero is Odessa High School. He said 75 percent of the roughly 4,000 students there would be eligible for Communities in Schools. Because of that, he said he would work toward adding more staff and programs into that campus.
Communities in Schools served 1,160 students in 2016-17. Of those, Elizondo said 641 were in Odessa.
Eighty-four percent of them were promoted and 96 percent of all students touched by CIS stayed in school. Ninety-eight percent of those were in Odessa.
Overall, students in Communities in Schools has a 96 percent graduation rate.
Ninety-five percent of Odessa students in CIS graduated. Elizondo said ECISD has an overall graduation rate of 86 percent.
CIS was established in the Permian Basin in 1999. Elizondo said it is accredited by TEA and partially funded by TEA.
Campus coordinators are stationed at every campus Communities in Schools serves, Elizondo said. Anyone can refer a student to the program, he added.
Staff case manage anywhere from 90 to 100 students, Elizondo said. But that doesn’t include walk-ins.
The nonprofit partners with local businesses, social service agencies, health care providers and volunteers to connect students and families with outside resources. The organization has been known to provide anything from clothing to tires to places to live and helped with payment of utility bills.
However, Elizondo said he is seeking more funding and wants to start the program at Nimitz Middle School and expand some of the other programs CIS offers to ECISD.
Ector County ISD
- Crockett Middle School
- Ector Middle School
- Wilson and Young Medal of Honor Middle School
- Bowie Middle School
- Bonham Middle School
- Odessa High School
- Permian High School
- Alternative Education Center
Midland County ISD
- Goddard Junior High School
- Lee Freshman High School
- Midland Freshman High School
- Lee Senior High School
- Midland Senior High School
- Greenwood High School
- Brooks Middle School