Carlos Keating Hub International

I am sometimes asked why I spend so much time talking about El Paso’s schools. I have two answers.

The first is that as a member of the business community, I know what happens to an economy when more people possess a post-secondary degree. A more educated workforce attracts higher-paying jobs, and higher-paying jobs lead to more investment in local infrastructure like roads and parks, and increased purchasing power for families.

Highly trained workers are also less likely to face technological obsolescence, unemployment and career stagnation. They are more likely to innovate, start their own businesses and move into management. That’s good for all of us.

The second answer is even more important: I don’t just talk about El Paso’s schools as a business leader. I talk about them as a father of a fifth and second grader who understands what all this means for his own children.

Thanks to the hard work of local educators, El Paso’s schools were making significant progress on increasing educational attainment for all students in the years before COVID. UTEP was enjoying more than 20 years of growing enrollment, and investments in classroom innovations were beginning to pay off.

Anyone who watched their kids struggle with remote learning won’t be surprised to learn that all that changed with the pandemic. Now we only have a brief window to turn things around, help students make up for lost time and ensure that their learning losses aren’t cumulative. We need to look at what we know works, identify where small changes can make a big impact and encourage our kids to strive for academic excellence.

Next to support at home – parents, I’m looking at all of us – our most important allies in this struggle are the men and women standing at the front of our children’s classrooms. Those of us who can still name a favorite teacher don’t need a study to tell us what our experience has shown, but over and over, research demonstrates that teacher quality matters.

Unfortunately, studies also show that nearly half of all new teachers today will leave the profession within their first five years.

Even before the pandemic, organizations like CREEED, the El Paso Community Foundation and UTEP’s College of Education were working to improve training and support for new teachers. Their efforts have brought funding to our region and enabled educational institutions at all levels to invest in El Paso’s teacher pipeline over the last several years.

These investments help ensure that teachers enter the profession with the experience and training they need to deliver high-quality instruction from day one and that rookie educators continue to get mentorship and support as they begin their new careers. For established teachers looking to develop their skills, additional investments support advanced training and licensure.

An investment in our education workforce is an investment in our region’s workforce, and that is an investment in all our futures.

Carlos Keating is an assistant vice president with Hub International in El Paso.


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