Guillermo Regino, a senior at Premier High School of North Austin, addressed the members of the Texas Senate Education Committee on April 12. He testified at a hearing on Senate Bill 1872 – a bill aimed at increasing the state’s capacity to recover high school dropouts and to move them towards graduation.
Regino, 19, often known at his school as “Willie,” enrolled in PHS North Austin last year. Prior to enrolling in PHS, he had attended his local traditional public high school but felt discouraged. When he left his traditional school, Regino was still considered a freshman by credits earned even though he had attended a school since 2006. He said he tried to go to another school in North Austin but felt overwhelmed to find too many students, not enough teachers, and long school days.
He dropped out and started working in construction with his brother-in-law to help his family. While looking for other forms of employment, he realized he needed his GED or high school diploma to get hired. Soon after, he enrolled in PHS North Austin.
“I have recovered three years worth of credits in a year and a half,” Regino told the members of the Education Committee. Prior to being accepted in PHS, he was first placed on a waiting list for six months.
Regino continued to point out that there were only a couple of dropout recovery high schools in the Austin area, and they all had waiting lists.
“If more schools like Premier High School were available 10 -15 years ago, there would be less dropouts in Austin,” Regino said, explaining the need for more dropout recovery schools.
Regino was born in Austin and raised by his mother who was a single parent. She attended school in Mexico until the 6th-grade. After moving her family to the United States and because she valued education, she completed her GED while she continued to raise Regino and his two siblings.
“My brother dropped out of school, but these kinds of schools weren’t available in his high school years,” Regino said. He further explained that his older brother completed his GED while he was incarcerated.
Now close to graduation, Regino said he felt proud to be the first high school graduate in his family.