During its 98 years of existence, the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas has implemented several services to meet the needs of members of Commissioners Courts including communication through our excellent magazine, County Progress, legal advice through the CJCAT general counsel, and legislative representation through the state officers and legislative committee. However, our education program is likely the most important service to our members. Most Judges and Commissioners begin their county service with no prior experience in government and little prior exposure to county offices. While learning while serving may be a necessity, Commissioners Court members are also the beneficiaries of some dedicated sponsors of county education.
The V.G. Young Institute of County Government, the Texas Association of Counties, the CJCAT and its regional associations, and other sponsors provide a multitude of educational opportunities for Commissioners Courts. Beginning with the Conference for Newly Elected Judges and Commissioners sponsored by the LBJ School of Public Affairs and continuing with a 64-plus hour course of instruction through the Commissioners Court Advanced Curriculum program, our members receive a full and diverse menu of training on the many services and duties performed by county government. Each program requires hundreds of hours of preparation by educational staff and speakers to prepare the maximum experience. While in-person training remains the “gold standard” for professional education, with the COVID-19 epidemic, Gov. Abbott has allowed interactive, distance learning to substitute for classroom education for Commissioners where necessary.
Each proposed program is reviewed by the Commissioners Education Committee to assure significant county-related content before it is approved for inclusion in the CJCAT program. Commissioners who achieve the mandatory 16-hour annual requirement receive a certificate, and those who complete the Advanced Curriculum program are recognized with a suitable diploma. The operational costs of the program are absorbed by the CJCAT with support from a small fee collected by participating sponsors. TAC provides valuable data and administrative support.
Education is a lifetime process. As public servants, Commissioners Court members strive to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of county government every day. The dedication of our education partners and sponsors is essential to the continued success of our members and our organization. With their assistance, we will continue to improve our skills and services for the advancement of county government.
For up-to-date information on available educational opportunities, go to https://countyprogress.com/2020-county-commissioners-ce-opportunities/.