The best idea I heard in Galveston last week came from the Harris Kempner lunch group, a group of fellows who meet each Tuesday at a restaurant on the East End. The idea was so good it gave me hope.
Galveston, for all its problems, has some assets — its port and maritime businesses, the tourism industry and the health care industry anchored by the University of Texas Medical Branch.
The one that offers the best prospect of a large and growing number of jobs with good pay is health care.
Why are large and growing numbers of jobs with good pay important? Well, ask that teenager you know whether he or she plans to stay in Galveston.
Think about what kinds of opportunities it would take to convince at least some of the island’s children to stay put.
There are thousands of jobs in the medical field on the island. Many are filled by people recruited from other parts of the country.
What would happen if Galveston got serious about growing its own work force to fill that need?
Specifically, what would happen if the community focused on adding and improving educational tracks at Ball High School and Galveston College that led to careers in medicine, medical science and medical research?
The key words are “adding and improving.” This would be something the community invested in beyond the basics, beyond what exists now.
Students wouldn’t be forced to choose anything. But those who could see themselves in a career as an X-ray technician, a phlebotomist, a nurse or a doctor could get on a track to achieve that dream.
How could that happen?
Make it a goal to establish Ball High School and Galveston College as the best high school and best community college in Texas for those wishing to pursue these careers.
Imagine what would happen if those two schools had statewide reputations for being the best.
Right or wrong, the Galveston school district doesn’t have the best reputation. There are not a lot of parents moving from League City trying to get their children in Galveston schools.
But what if the Galveston community and its schools got behind that goal of excellence in one field? Success has a way of feeding itself. Success in one area can lead to successes in others.
Baylor College of Medicine sets aside slots in its entering class for students from a pre-med program offered by DeBakey High School and University of Houston. Could something similar happen here with the University of Texas Medical Branch?
Can you imagine how something like that might change perceptions about our schools?
Galveston is famous for producing plans and putting them on the shelf. This one’s too good to leave on any shelf.
If you agree, drop me a line that I can pass on to the lunch group. Even better, write a letter for Word on the Street. When you see a good idea, encourage it — especially if it offers the hope of a better future for the children of your community.
Heber Taylor is editor of The Daily News. He can be reached at email@example.com or 409-683-5245.