Texas Senate Passes Zaffirini’s Bill Improving Academic Advising at Texas Colleges and Universities

(AUSTIN) — The Texas Senate on Thursday (March 31) unanimously voted to develop an objective system that can fairly assess and evaluate academic advising at Texas colleges and universities.

Senate Bill (SB) 36 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, would require the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and relevant experts to develop an instrument to assess student advising no later than September 1, 2012.

“Currently, there is no formal assessment system for academic advisors,” Senator Zaffirini said. “Without one, the state is allowing a key predictor of undergraduate success to go underutilized. This bill would provide the first step in developing a system that can assess and evaluate academic advising fairly.”

SB 36 would require the THECB to develop the new assessment instrument in consultation with colleges and universities and academic advisors. What’s more, the bill would require the method of assessment to include both quantitative and qualitative measures.

“To improve graduation rates, student success and the quality of education at our colleges and universities, we must ensure that students are receiving effective, appropriate academic advising from qualified academic advisors,” Senator Zaffirini said. “A system to evaluate academic advising would not only help achieve these goals, but also enhance accountability in higher education.”

SB 36 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. The continued progress of this and all bills authored by Senator Zaffirini can be monitored via the internet at www.legis.state.tx.us or by contacting the Texas Legislative Reference Library’s toll free in-state hotline, 1-877-824-7038.

Texas Senate Passes Zaffirini’s Bill Designating Veterans of the Korean War Memorial Highway

(AUSTIN) — The Texas Senate on Monday (March 28) unanimously voted to honor Texas’ Korean War veterans by enrolling portions of several important South Texas roadways in the Texas Memorial Highway System.

Senate Bill (SB) 58 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, would designate segments of State Highways 359, 16 and 285 as the Veterans of the Korean War Memorial Highway.

The highway would extend from Laredo to Falfurrias and would traverse Webb, Jim Hogg, Duval and Brooks counties.

“More than 289,000 Texans served in the Korean War, and 1,723 of them were either killed or missing in action,” Senator Zaffirini said. “Many of them were from South Texas, and naming an important South Texas route in their honor is a fitting tribute to their patriotism and sacrifice.”

The Texas Memorial Highway System is a network of roads named in honor of noteworthy Texans, including the distinguished veterans of many conflicts.

Notably, two memorial highways intersect in Webb County: the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway (U.S. 83), which extends from the Texas-Oklahoma border to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and the Senator Lloyd Bentsen Highway (U.S. 59), which extends from Houston to Laredo.

Groups including the Webb County Korean War Veterans Association and Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars are working hard to secure support for this important legislation. Grants or donations would cover the cost of erecting memorial markers and signs along the highway.

“Designating a memorial highway honoring Korean War Veterans in South Texas is supported strongly,” Senator Zaffirini said. “This region is home to many of these brave men and women, and I am proud to collaborate in this effort with my friend, Mary Freeman, and Webb County Korean War veterans, including Ernesto Sanchez, who initiated this project.”

SB 58 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. The continued progress of this and all bills authored by Senator Zaffirini can be monitored via the internet at www.legis.state.tx.us or by contacting the Texas Legislative Reference Library’s toll free in-state hotline, 1-877-824-7038.

WEBB COUNTY KOREAN WAR VETERANS ASSOCIATION members join Senator Judith Zaffirini in garnering support for her Senate Bill 58, which would designate segments of several South Texas roadways as the Veterans of the Korean War Memorial Highway. They include (L-R) Ernesto Sanchez, Arnoldo Gutierrez and John F. McKeown.

Texas Senate Passes Zaffirini’s Bill Bringing For-Profit Institutions into Texas Higher Education Accountability System

(AUSTIN) — The Texas Senate on Monday (March 28) overwhelmingly voted to include private, for-profit institutions and career schools and colleges in the state’s higher education state’s accountability system.

Senate Bill (SB) 38 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, would require the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to collect accurate, timely information regarding degree-granting for-profit institutions and make it available to students, parents and state policymakers via the statewide accountability system.

“The Higher Education Accountability System tracks key performance measures that exemplify higher education institutions’ missions, but the system currently applies only to public colleges and universities,” Senator Zaffirini said. “Bringing for-profit institutions and career schools and colleges into the accountability system will help ensure that students have adequate information about an institution before they enroll.”

Recent studies and media reports have documented problems associated with some for-profit universities, including high cohort default rates and misleading recruting practices.

“Enhancing our state’s higher education accountability system would not only give students greater peace of mind about the institutions they attend, but also focus on the key components of the state’s Closing the Gaps initiative: participation, success, excellence and research, ” Senator Zaffirini said.

SB 38 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. The continued progress of this and all bills authored by Senator Zaffirini can be monitored via the internet at www.legis.state.tx.us or by contacting the Texas Legislative Reference Library’s toll free in-state hotline, 1-877-824-7038.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-LAREDO, is Chair of the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee. She champions legislation and funding that promote excellence in higher education.