As we wind down 2023 and look ahead to 2024, I wanted to send one last CCST member report (which includes some hopeful news on the BDR Rule!)

Thank you all for your continued support of CCST and our mission. We are proud of everything we accomplished this year - particularly in what seems like a never-ending legislative session - and are excited about the opportunities for our sector in the coming year.

On behalf of our board and staff, Happy Holidays.


Jerry Valdez
CCST Executive Director
A bit of good news! Because of our lawsuit, there is a nationwide injunction against the new Biden BDR Rule during the appeal, which will remain in place until the 5th Circuit panel issues its decision. And, based on the panel composition and the way the oral argument went, we are cautiously optimistic that the panel will decide to overturn the district court and grant our preliminary injunction request, keeping the current injunction in place for the duration of the case in the district court.
The borrower defense statute and the prior borrower defense rule (Trump Rule) are both still in place and the Department has promised to process BDR claims quickly. The Department has said they are going to continue to distribute claims through approximately April before they complete the batch of pending claims dating up to December 2022.
Additional background on this issue: The borrower defense system is based on a sentence in the Higher Education Act, so some form of borrower defense will always exist under that statute. For a long time, borrower defense was interpreted as a way that a borrower could defend themselves against a collection action by the Department and it was rarely invoked. However, the Obama Administration created a rule that expanded it dramatically into a system where borrowers could apply for debt forgiveness and the Department could even initiate borrower defense loan forgiveness for whole groups of students. The Trump Administration created a new BDR rule that rolled back much of that, but it still left the system in place where individual borrowers can file claims, and the Department has to process them.

Our ultimate hope for the CCST lawsuit is that some of our arguments against the Biden Rule would apply to the Trump and Obama Rules too, so the 5th Circuit could potentially rule for us in a way that would roll things back to the initial version before any of the rules.

Literacy and the Workforce
Texas lags the national literacy rate by a significant margin, says economist M. Ray Perryman. Only 40% of Texas adults have literacy of Level 3 or higher, with the US rate being 46%. 

The Texas economy is enjoying substantial growth, and a natural outcome of that and current demographic patterns is a need for workers. Our projections indicate that about 38% of the demand for workers (from economic growth and replacements) over the next 10 years will be in jobs requiring Level 3 literacy. The fastest-growing occupations requiring Level 3 literacy include General and Operations Managers, Registered Nurses, Truck Drivers, and Software Developers. 

Improving literacy rates should be a crucial aspect of workforce preparedness, enhancing the state’s prospects for future prosperity. From an individual perspective, higher literacy improves both quality of life and earning potential. Stay safe! Read November 29 article here.
Governor Abbott Appoints Esparza To Texas Workforce Commission

Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Joe Esparza to the Texas Workforce Commission, as the Commissioner Representing Employers, for a term set to expire February 1, 2027. The Commission is charged with overseeing and providing workforce development services to employers and job seekers in Texas.
Joe Esparza of Elgin has served as the Texas Deputy Secretary of State since December 2018. Previously, he served as a senior appointments manager in the Office of the Governor, clerk for the City of Lubbock, and a field technician for the Texas General Land Office. He is a volunteer for the Native Prairies Association of Texas and Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. He received an honorable discharge from the United States Marine Corps after eight years of active and reserve service. Esparza received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications from Texas Tech University.
CECU Podcast:
How AI Can Transform Higher Education

Proficiency in AI will be crucial for students entering the job market. Higher education institutions must integrate AI into academic settings to better prepare students for the workforce. Guest Dr. Van Davis shares his research with host Jason Altmire. Dr. Davis explains how colleges are using AI, as well as the benefits and challenges of incorporating AI.

Dr. Van Davis is the Chief Strategy Officer for WCET – the WICHE Cooperative for EducationalTechnologies, an organization focused on digital learning in higher education. He’s the co-author of a report on the use of artificial intelligence in higher education.