Community colleges rally Texas Capitol

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Walk through the Texas State Capitol on any given day during the legislative session. You are bound to hear mariachi music blaring from the rotunda and rattlesnakes drawing noisy crowds in the extension.

Needless to say, grabbing the attention of lawmakers can be a very competitive process. It seems nearly every group across the state wants something – from money to recognition.

So when 1,500 Texas community college students showed up on Tuesday, they knew they would have to make a splash.

"What are the stumbling blocks for students?” asked Richard Rhodes, Austin Community College president. “How can we - through policy - change and eliminate those?"

After rallying on the south steps, the students went door-to-door to speak with lawmakers and their staff.

"Right now, I'm a sophomore at the junior college, so I'll be transferring soon,” said Victoria Malone, a Ranger Junior College student.

Transfers were just part of the conversation. Rhodes said the group planned to talk about financial aid, transfer articulation, and developmental education. Students also tackled campus safety, affordability at two-year schools and workforce training.

Perhaps the most powerful attention-grabbing weapon for community colleges this session – Gov. Rick Perry. He has made higher education one of his top priorities.

Among the governor’s higher ed proposals, he renewed his call for colleges to develop $10,000 degree programs. He wants state schools to freeze tuition for incoming college freshmen - that way they would pay the same rates for four years. The governor also called on campuses to find ways to help students graduate sooner.

Copyright 2014 KXAN TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Republican Rick Perry is Governor of Texas. Two Republicans represent Texas in the U.S. Senate, and Texas has 32 representatives in the U.S. House: 20 Republicans and 12 Democrats.
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