What Will Houston Children Need To Compete In The Future?

Is Houston ready for another million neighbors? That's the question the city faces as planners anticipate an influx of a million people over the next 20 years. Social services groups are worried about what effect that will have on children.

At the annual Future of Houston's Children Conference, put on by Children at Risk, a few dozen representatives from the education, health and nonprofit sectors listen to the latest projections about Houston and Texas.

For example, 59 percent of children in Texas live near or below the federal poverty line and 48 percent of Texas children are Hispanic.

Children at Risk President Dr. Bob Sanborn says as Houston grows, childhood education must become a higher priority.

"Making sure that from Pre-K through 12, that we're doing the things that need to be done to make sure that our children are successful. We know that the best way to pull children out of poverty is for them to get a quality public education."

Sanborn says Texas is last in the nation in the percentage of people with a high school diploma and 30th in the percentage of people with a college degree.

"So we know that unemployment rates in the country for high school drop-outs are near the 20 percent level. But for those who go to college, we're talking about a four percent — this is in the whole nation — a four percent unemployment rate. So we know that the way to full employment and the way to earning more over a lifetime is going to college."

Presenters at the conference framed childhood education as an infrastructure investment, equally as important to the future of Houston as transportation or business development. 

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...