As you would expect in a city the size of Houston, educational opportunities and options are abundant and varied. Within the nine-county greater metropolitan area, there are more than 60 school districts, nearly 50 state-approved charter schools, and almost 200 private schools from which to choose. The Houston Independent School District (Houston ISD) is the largest public school district in Texas and the seventh largest in the nation.
From day care and preschools to community colleges and nationally ranked universities, Houston possesses a full range of educational opportunities for all ages. For assistance in choosing a local day care, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services website provides a search tool for child care centers and homes, and identifies important standards and requirements for caregivers.
A trusted resource for parents needing information on early education options is Collaborative for Children. Serving the Houston region for more than 25 years, Collaborative for Children partners with families, teachers, care providers, and community-based groups to build a strong educational foundation for young children to succeed in school and life.
In general, Houston schools are divided into three levels: elementary schools for prekindergarten through fifth grade, middle schools for grades six through eight, and high schools for grades nine through 12. State law requires that schools maintain an average student-to-teacher ratio of no more than 30 to 1.
Included in the mix are charter schools and magnet schools. Charter schools are autonomous, open-enrollment institutions that use state funding to provide innovative learning opportunities with greater flexibility than traditional public schools. Magnet schools are designed to promote high achievement and cultural diversity and offer a choice of curricula through a variety of specialized programs.
The Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area is home to almost 2.8 million jobs, currently the highest level of employment in the region’s history. Among the region’s largest employers are Memorial Hermann Health System, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, United Airlines, and Exxon Mobil Corporation.
The Greater Houston Partnership and Workforce Solutions implemented an innovative approach to meet employers’ skill shortages through an initiative to align the region’s education and training offerings with employers’ immediate needs.
One major element of this initiative has focused on the shortage of registered nurses in the Gulf Coast region. The coalition’s Health Services Steering Committee was recognized with a national award in 2001 as an exemplary partnership.
Also, the Texas Workforce Commission awarded the Workforce Solutions a grant to expand the model program at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston for upgrading staff to registered nurse positions, including six area hospitals that chose to participate. That initiative resulted in a 20-percent increase in local nursing school enrollment and a corresponding increase in the number of nursing school facilities.