In Texas, black students represent roughly 13% of the total student population but have the highest dropout rates, are most likely to be referred to special education programs and have the lowest scores on standardized tests across grades in all subjects. Half of all black students with an EBD (Emotional and Behavioral Disorder) diagnosis drop out of school before graduation, and 73% of those students are arrested within three to five years.
Education is the civil rights movement of our time. The Texas Constitution says that suitable provision must be made “for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.” With student outcomes like the ones above, however, our black students desperately need reforms to the current system.
The Booker T. Washington Initiative is committed to securing for parents the rights and freedom to choose the educational options that are best suited for their children. We work with districts and schools of all types to help increase students’ access to instruction and opportunities that will help them succeed in the classroom and beyond it. BTWI’s goal is to close the academic achievement gap while shutting off the school to prison pipeline.
According to the National Skills Coalition, the State of Texas currently has a 14% jobs gap. Middle-skill jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree, make up the largest part of America’s and Texas’ labor market. Key industries in Texas are unable to find enough sufficiently trained workers to fill these jobs. Despite the employment disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, these and other technical, industrialized skills will remain a requirement to supply the Texas workforce needs.
The Booker T. Washington Initiative (BTWI) is committed to closing the middle-skills job gap by promoting collaboratives between entities within the Texas Education Agency, Texas Workforce Commission and the Texas Higher Education Board. BTWI is currently organizing workforce development and education coalitions in key targeted cities across the State of Texas.
Our strategic plan to develop a cadre of skilled workers includes launching an Industry Cluster Innovative Academy (ICIA) pilot program in Port Arthur and Midland Texas. The expansion of ICIA’s, innovative charter school initiatives and private Christian Academies in key Cities such as Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Beaumont/Port Arthur, Austin, Galveston, Fort Worth and Waco are critical objectives to achieving the goal of increasing employability among Texas youth and young adults.
In Texas, Black unemployment remains significantly high. Unemployment serves as a precursor to poverty. Impoverished conditions create an environment which fosters crime, poor mental and physical health, while destroying the family unit. BTWI is building bridges by developing coalitions to find innovative solutions, strengthen businesses and create jobs. our goal is to establish clear and sustainable pathways from poverty to prosperity.
Faith-Based programs, in prisons, have proven to be an effective tool for States endeavoring to institute positive reform measures. They have contributed significantly to the increase of academic attainment, skills development/vocational learning and the success of reentry initiatives. On the other hand, faith-based programs are also responsible for the reduction of violent crimes, assaults and murders committed while individuals are incarcerated. The reduction in recidivism rates have also been identified as a bi product of sound and effective faith initiatives.
The Booker T. Washington Initiative (BTWI) is committed to enhancing faith-based programs throughout the Texas Department of Corrections via the development of in-prison Bible College and Chapels. Following best practices, implementing the Louisiana State Penitentiary (LSP) Moral Rehabilitation Model, which has proven to have a prodigious impact on the adverse behavior of people who are incarcerated; BTWI will work with criminal justice reform partners and legislators to find solutions using biblical principles. LSP became a model for the country when it partnered with the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to open a Bible College on the grounds of the maximum-security prison (Angola). Since its inception in 1995, the Seminary has inspired the opening of Bible Colleges in states across America to include Texas.