Career tech programs put young Texans on the track to join the workforce while earning their high school diploma. However, a Texas Education Agency committee may potentially move to cut cosmetology programs at all Texas public schools.
The TEA told NBC 5 Tuesday they are only in the beginning stages of the review process and that this would be the 'worst case scenario' and that they are working to avoid cutting the programs entirely by making other changes.
North Texas students and teachers are beginning to mobilize to try and save the program.
“I always liked to keep my hair done and I always liked to try something outside the box,” said Dylan Robbins.
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Out of self-creativity grew passion and a dream for the DeSoto High School junior.
“When I was in middle school I found out I had a passion to color hair,” she said.
The now 16-year-old looked forward to join the high school’s cosmetology courses. She is now on her way toward earning her cosmetology license this school year.
“When I get in college I feel like it will help me buy my books,” she said.
It is a dream some feel could be at risk for future students if cosmetology programs are cut at Texas high schools.
“It’s devastating to me,” said cosmetology teacher Anessa Nelson.
Nelson said she is a product of her high school’s cosmetology curriculum before going to college to become a teacher and starting the cosmetology program at DeSoto High School 15 years ago.
“Cosmetology saves lives. It makes a difference. A lot of students are in school because of programs like cosmetology,” she said. “I have many students that have their license, that are working in salons, that have businesses, that have hair lines. It’s valuable.”
Whether it’s valuable is being debated by the TEA.
The agency is reviewing career and technical education programs statewide after it was determined that cosmetology do not meet all of the federal requirements ensuring such programs receiving federal funding lead to high-wage jobs and a pathway to post-secondary education for Texas students.
Nicholas Johnson is the director of CTE for the DeSoto Independent School District. He is mobilizing for the upcoming public comment period afforded during the review process. The public comment period will be available online, according to TEA. A link is not yet available.
“[The state] is saying is there a way for kids to make money? Can they come out and have businesses? Is it going to actually improve the economy? That’s why they’re looking at those programs,” said Johnson. “Worst-case scenario is if you take away those programs what now is there for the interest of our students?”
A decision on the future of cosmetology programs could be made in January 2019, according to the TEA.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) is voicing concern about the recommendation to cut the program and issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying, in part:
"Career tech programs are an increasingly vital aspect of public education and my office will continue to work with TEA to make sure these programs are top-notch."