Texas Business and Education Coalition
The TBEC dates back to 1989 when businesses became increasingly concerned with the quality of employees that were coming to them and realized that the nation's public education system was not helping to turn out a quality workforce. Although many business people attended education conferences and seminars, there was never any formal follow up or cooperation made through these efforts.
Some years earlier efforts were made by legislators to create a partnership between businesses and educators, but little attention was given to the issue. As it became apparent that the same people interested in creating legislation were also active members of the chamber of commerce, the Texas Chamber Education Task Force was created. The business members helped educators to tell the public what the education system really needed, rather than just sending out pleas for more funding. This allowed business to really understand the pressure, demand and expectations that are placed on educators. As the organization developed and evolved over the years, they went from using loaned executives from companies such as Exxon and IBM to opening an office in Austin, with funding from IBM and Southwestern Bell. A number of committees were created in order to create a philosophy and specify the group's objectives. A document outlining these points was finalized in December 1989.
To better serve the community at large, the group structured its organizational design to include both education and business co-chairmen on the board of directors. Early on, issues that the TBEC dealt with focused more on the community that managed the schools than the system itself. Once it was realized that there was little uniformity in the statewide system, the group began to push for student testing and teacher accountability for the performance of the students. This helped them to direct their attention towards creating a set of standards and a system of holding educators accountable. They also worked on tailoring the curriculum and the methods used in teaching.
After two years, TBEC was able to hire a full-time executive director to handle the work of the group. In 1992, John Stevens became the first director. The group feels strongly against lobbying due to wanting to fulfill their own objectives, however many of the people and businesses that founded TBEC have created Texans for Education, a business lobbying group which helps garner support from the business community.
This unique organization continues to allow business professionals and educators to work together on improving public education for the benefit of everyone. Both groups carry out an on-going dialog that keeps them informed of what issues are most pressing, rather than work independently and potentially advocate for opposing decisions.
There are more than 50 committee members and directors located in the Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio areas. In addition to all of the classroom teachers, professors and educational administrators, they represent companies such as Verizon, Exxon, Apple Computer, IBM, State Farm Insurance and Dow Chemical.
What They Do
Believing in the power of partnerships, the TBEC brings together business leaders and educators to work together for the benefit of Texas' students and their education system. The work of the TBEC can be linked to the improved performance by Texas schools. The organization advocates for better education policies and higher standards to improve students' performance. The TBEC pushes for a stronger, more complete curriculum so that students are prepared for future studies or entering the workforce. They encourage schools to develop and promote technology programs in order to help meet the future needs of the state and nation. The business members bring valuable input to the group and are the voice of the business community. The group also gives recognition to the best schools in the state and helps other schools to replicate the performance of the top schools.
To learn more about the coalition, you can contact them at the following mailing and email addresses:
Texas Business & Education Coalition
221 West Sixth Street, Suite 310
Austin, TX 78701