2015 Emerging Issues Symposium

Breakout Sessions Summaries

Breakout Session #1


Micky M. Moerbe, MPH, CPH, Biostatistician Tarrant County Public Health

Yvette Wingate, MPA, Tarrant County Public Health


Tarrant County's Roadmap To Health in 2030


Tarrant County’s 1.9 million people will be living in an upside down population pyramid with more people 85 and over than any other five-year age group, Moerbe said. Tarrant County is more diverse with major growth in Hispanic, African-American and Asian populations. There will be no majority group in the county; all groups will be less than 50 percent.


Moerbe projected 21 percent of household growth in a 10 county area will be Tarrant County by 2030. Growth is more suburban. Tarrant County is losing rural pockets and will be all urban/suburban by 2030. Tarrant County Public Health expects more chronic diseases because of age and lack of activity in younger people. TCPH devotes 66 percent of its budget to chronic disease.


Knowledge transference is not happening. Many health care professionals are retiring, but how do we handle professionals who are staying in the profession? More diversity presents cultural challenges in terms of health, language, access to health care and differing cultural norms.


Wingate described MAPP, Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnership, organizing more than 100 community partners for positive collective impact. In 2014, Tarrant County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) – Tarrant County Voices for Health was created as an action-oriented strategic plan intended to serve as a vision for community health. Priority areas are education, environment, health care access, and partnerships. Goal is to replicate efforts in new areas rather than duplicate in the same area.


When culture is ignored, families are at risk or ot getting the support they need, or worse yet, receiving assistance that is harmful. Tarrant County Food Policy Council ensures equitable access to healthy foods and sufficient, nutritious and culturally appropriate foods and advocates for local food policies. TCFPC encourages physical activity by avoiding incomplete streets, those designed exclusively for cars, and creating and adding sidewalks and encouraging physical activity. Those who are active seven hours weekly are 40 percent less likely to die. Facing the challenges of an aging population means ensuring older workers are treated fairly. Challenges are rising as retiring and Social Security age population rises. TCPH is attempting to close generational gaps through leadership coaching and mentoring.














Breakout Session #2

Next Exit for Education





President, 114th Partnership, Montgomery County, MDJane Kubasik,


Instructor, Tarrant County College, Fort Worth, TXJeffrey Miranda


Assistant Provost and Dean of the Academy of Tomorrow, Texas Christian UniversityDr. David Whillock,



Technology, Project-Based Learning Helps Inspire Students


Kubasik emphasized the importance of project-based learning and more credible, easy-to-use resources to motivate students and promote more graduates with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skills and interests. The U.S. has 20 million students with close to two million in Texas alone. Case-based problem-solving videos help teachers connect the real-world to the classroom. Spark 101 helps teachers, employers and students understand STEM. Materials are free to teachers for use in the class room or for professional education. Lockheed Martin created a project related to an Antarctic expedition using renewable resources. Teachers from fifth grade through high school include this information in lesson plans.


Miranda says learning extends beyond the brick-and-mortar classroom, a trend that is more than 200 years old. Correspondence courses, instructional radio and television courses, bulletin board delivery courses, online classes through the Internet are all examples of distance learning. Learning Management Software allows more interactions and is leading to the emergence of blended learning. Students check their progress in online grade books. In a hybrid learning environment, at least part of the education is online with some element of student control over time, place, path and/or pace. A portion of education is conducted in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home. Integrated learning experiences include presenting material at home, but practicing learning in a classroom. Experiential classrooms use movable desks and wi-fi to improve learning.


Whillock described a changed paradigm from teaching to learning. Space is a major issue: what is available and what is needed? Sometimes teachers' and students' ideas of what they have learned and what they do with the information do not align. Active learning is critical in technologically enhanced 21st century creating more direct application and practice of knowledge.  Today teachers use a wide variety of communication in and out of the classroom and around the world. Standing is preferable to sitting, moving preferable to staying in one spot in the classroom. Smart classrooms with team tables and monitors for each team controlled by a central hub encourage interactions. Study rooms registered online by students can be reserved 24 hours a day. Libraries can be directly accessed from class rooms. Incubator rooms can be reserved and used for brainstorming and design thinking. Active versus passive learning is key.  Areas for learning are larger than areas for teaching.



Breakout Session #3


Traffic Ahead: How Do Today’s Debates at the Ballot Box Affect Future Policy?



Ashley Paz, District 9 Fort Worth School Board Trustee

Aaron Harris, Direct Action Texas founder

Sissy Day,  Sissy Day & Associates


Local Control Increases Voter Participation


Paz said in her experience questions at debates did not address the actual problems she had to work on in the office. Debates around local elections tend to focus on macro issues (charter schools, common core, U.S. history books), yet at the local school board these issues are not day-to-day concerns. She encouraged voters to be aware of the actual issues the office handles.


How do big debates affect policy?


Harris said the latest legislative session focused on local control. Comptroller Susan Coombs started a campaign and website TellTheTruthTexas.org to ensure financial transparency. Some of the bills this session on local control included ballot transparency/reform, Denton fracking ban, texting bans, red light cameras, ethics reform, limits on debt and tax increases, school funding and state mandates.  Harris said the next legislative session will include even louder debates on local control. Day said Texas does not have mechanisms to bring forward changes. The only issue Texas can implement by referendum is local option elections for alcohol. Example:  If marijuana is ever legalized in Texas, the legislature will decide when the state votes. Citizens are not able to initiate those changes from a grassroots level. No recalls allowed either.


What is value of public education? 


Leaders of school board should value the public school system. In the  case of the state board of education, Paz questioned the wisdom of appointing a board chair who chooses to home school her children rather than place them in public schools. Paz said the state board chair should have some working knowledge of public schools at minimum.


How do changing demographics and gerrymandering impact election options?


Day said Texas doesn’t have many options to change its environment.  She said districts are designed to manipulate the type of voter/elected official (whether Republican or Democrat) and this process does not address changes in ethnic or class distribution within the city.  Harris concurred with  Day and continued the exchange. Straight-party ticket voting in Texas is designed to protect incumbents.  (If you are a judge listed at the bottom of the ballot, the straight party vote helps you).   Panelists felt that every politician should earn citizens’ votes. Frustrating and confusing voters is a tactic to discourage turnout, they said.


How do you get voters engaged in May elections? 


Harris believes local control drives voters to elections. For example, Arlington red light camera issue drew high turnout, and Colleyville road expansion issue increased voter participation by 30 percent. Every candidate and elected official has seen demographic information and understands what is happening.  Primaries determine elections. The average age of a voter in primary in Tarrant County is 71. Only nine of 150 districts are contestable.












Breakout Session #4


Demographic Forecast Affect Business?Business: How Will The 


Michael Sherrod,  William M. Dickey Entrepreneur in Residence, TCU Neeley School of Business, moderator

Dr. Rachel Croson, Dean, School of Business, University of Texas at Arlington

Julie Wilson, Reasons Group Inc.



Learning to manage diverse groups and communicate remotely is critical 


Dr. Croson said diverse organizations produce better outcomes. Conflict exists, but it is focused on tasks, not emotion. The perception is innovation is messy, therefore bad. Continuing to innovate creates opportunities, Sherrod explained.


Drones disrupted the helicopter industry; Airbnb disrupted the hotel industry. Technology is the source of most innovation. Therefore, Sherrod said understanding coding and computer infrastructure is important. Wilson said local policy must be attuned to society. Dallas/Fort Worth will double in size by 2030. Where will the jobs come from? Wilson said D/FW’s good environment could switch to a crime-ridden, poor society without jobs.  If Tarrant County is to thrive, hiring needs to happen now. It’s critical to maintain infrastructure, water supply, and energy supply. Global businesses want transportation connections, such as high-speed rail.


Wilson added that marketing services to clients is extremely difficult in a more fractured media environment.  Each demographic group requires its own approach. For example, Hispanics want to hear from people who volunteer in their community. Otherwise, the message won’t be received.


Sherrod emphasized lengthy Power Points and white papers don’t translate to electronic communications. Management is becoming less and less important, leadership skills are rising in importance. Future leaders must be fluent in electronic communication, distance learning, advocating verbally and in text form. As technology rises in importance, social communications become more critical.








Breakout Session #1:



Highway to Health















Policy break-out session grapples with voter turnout, local control and other issues.

Panelists conferred with symposium attendees on key issues of health, education, poilcy and business.

Margaret DeMoss discusses themes of breakout sessions with keynote speaker Stephen Klineberg

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