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Carlos Walker
Texas House District 97






Additional Information

Advanced to a runoff for Texas House District 97 in the 2024 Democratic primary election.

Endorsed in the 2024 Democratic primary election by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial board.

Candidate Survey Responses


1. If elected, what are your top priorities for public education?

If elected, my top priorities for public education in Texas would revolve around ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education that prepares them for success in the 21st century.

Specifically, I would work to address educational disparities, ensuring that students in all communities, regardless of their socioeconomic background or geographic location, have access to the same educational opportunities and resources.

Supporting our educators is paramount, and I would advocate for competitive compensation packages, professional development opportunities, and mentorship programs to attract and retain talented teachers, as happy and motivated teachers are key to student success. Additionally, investing in early childhood education is proven to have a significant impact on a child's future academic success, so I would prioritize expanding access to quality pre-K programs for all eligible children and increasing funding for early childhood education initiatives.

In today's digital age, it's essential that our students are well-prepared to use technology effectively, so I would advocate for increased investment in technology infrastructure and training for both students and teachers. Every student, including those with disabilities, should have the opportunity to thrive in our public schools, and I would work to strengthen support for special education services and promote inclusive educational environments.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs provide valuable skills and career pathways for students, so I would support the expansion of CTE programs and partnerships with local industries to ensure students are well-prepared for the workforce. Ensuring the safety of our students and educators is of utmost importance, so I would work to improve school safety measures, including mental health support for students and staff. Building strong partnerships between schools, parents, and the community is essential for student success, and I would encourage and support initiatives that foster collaboration and involvement.

While accountability is important, I would advocate for a balanced approach to assessment that reduces high-stakes testing and allows teachers more flexibility to tailor instruction to students' needs. Finally, our school funding system needs reform to ensure that schools receive adequate and equitable funding, and I would work to develop a fair and sustainable funding model that meets the needs of all students.

In conclusion, my top priorities for public education in Texas would center on creating an equitable, supportive, and innovative educational system that prepares our students for a bright future. By focusing on these priorities, we can ensure that every child in Texas has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

2. Voucher programs take many forms (tax credits, scholarships, education savings accounts, etc.) and are either universal or aimed at specific subpopulations (special education students, low-income students, students attending schools with poor A-F accountability ratings, etc.). Would you vote to create a voucher program of any type to pay for students to attend non-public K-12 schools, such as private or home schools?

No, I will not support the creation of voucher programs of any type to pay for students to attend non-public K-12 schools, including private or home schools. My commitment is to strengthen and invest in our public education system to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education, rather than diverting resources away from public schools. Voucher programs can undermine our public education system and lead to greater educational disparities, which is not in the best interest of our students or our communities.

3. In 2023, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill (HB) 3 requiring a number of new school safety measures. However, many believe the Legislature did not adequately increase funding to cover the cost of the mandates in HB 3 or other locally adopted school safety measures. How would you work to make schools safer and ensure such initiatives are properly funded?

Making our schools safer is a top priority, and it's crucial that we adequately fund the necessary measures to achieve this goal. I firmly believe that the Texas legislature should not pass unfunded mandates on our schools. Instead, we need leaders who are committed to providing the resources required to make our schools safe and secure. To ensure that school safety initiatives are properly funded, I would work collaboratively with my colleagues in the legislature to prioritize and allocate the necessary funding to cover the cost of mandated safety measures. Our children's safety should always be a top priority, and I will always stand up and advocate for the financial support needed to achieve that goal.

4. Despite a record-breaking surplus of $38 billion during the 2023 legislative session, school funding formulas were not increased to keep pace with inflation since they were last adjusted in 2019. Do you believe Texas public schools should receive additional funding? If so, how should the state pay for it?

Certainly, I firmly believe that Texas public schools must receive additional funding to ensure they have the necessary resources for providing a high-quality education to all students. The fact is, we have the financial means within Texas to fully support our schools, but what we lack is the political will to do so. It's disheartening to witness some politicians leveraging school funding as a bargaining tool to push through unpopular policies. Our students and their education should always come first, ahead of any political ambitions.

To address this issue and secure the necessary funding for our schools, we should explore various revenue sources. This could involve a fair and equitable redistribution of existing funds and a comprehensive review of the state's budget to identify areas where resources can be allocated more efficiently. It's essential to prioritize our children's education as a top investment for the future of Texas, free from political games that hinder their success.

5. Texas has faced growing teacher shortages in recent years, with many schools hiring uncertified teachers to fill the gaps. How would you work to ensure Texas public schools have an adequate number of trained and certified teachers?

Absolutely, addressing the teacher shortages in Texas is of utmost importance. It is a critical issue that directly impacts the quality of education our students receive and the future of our state. To ensure that Texas public schools have a sufficient number of trained and certified teachers, we must take decisive actions.

First and foremost, we need to invest in robust teacher pipeline programs to attract and train the next generation of educators. This includes initiatives to encourage young individuals to pursue teaching careers and provide them with the necessary support and resources during their training.

Moreover, we must focus on retaining our experienced teachers by offering competitive compensation packages and professional development opportunities. Mentorship programs can play a crucial role in supporting newer teachers and helping them grow in their roles.

It's essential to acknowledge that our teachers are at the heart of our education system, and we must prioritize their recruitment and retention. By doing so, we can ensure that Texas public schools have the qualified educators needed to provide a high-quality education to every student, setting the stage for a brighter future for our state.

6. Inadequate compensation hampers the recruitment and retention of high-quality educators. Do you support a state-funded across-the-board pay raise for all Texas educators?

Absolutely, I wholeheartedly support a state-funded across-the-board pay raise for all Texas educators. Inadequate compensation is a significant barrier to recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers in our state. As a lifelong educator, I deeply understand the importance of this issue.

Competitive and fair compensation not only recognizes the dedication and hard work of our teachers but also ensures that they can focus on their primary mission: providing a quality education to our students. By increasing teacher pay across the board, we can attract more talented individuals to the profession and retain experienced educators who play a vital role in shaping the future of Texas.

Failing to address this issue puts our education system and the future of our state at risk. We must prioritize our teachers and invest in their well-deserved compensation to secure a brighter future for Texas.

7. The high cost of health insurance available to educators is a significant factor decreasing their take-home pay. How would you address the challenge of rising health care costs facing Texas educators and ensure access to affordable health care?

Addressing the challenge of rising healthcare costs facing Texas educators is paramount to ensuring they receive the support and benefits they deserve. It's clear that educators should not be burdened with exorbitant health insurance costs that eat into their take-home pay.

To tackle this issue, we must prioritize comprehensive healthcare reform that includes educators as a critical group in need of affordable coverage. We cannot have a system that deliberately underpays our teachers and educators while simultaneously denying them essential support like affordable health insurance for themselves and their families.

As we address the broader issue of teacher pay, we should also consider how to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for educators. Exploring options such as state-funded healthcare initiatives and partnerships with healthcare providers can help alleviate the financial strain on educators, ultimately improving their overall well-being and job satisfaction. Our educators play a vital role in shaping the future of Texas, and it's our responsibility to ensure they have access to the healthcare they need without undue financial burden.

8. What do you feel is the proper role of standardized testing in the Texas public education system? For instance, should student test scores be used as a metric in determining teacher pay, school accountability ratings, evaluating teachers, measuring student progress, etc.?

The role of standardized testing in the Texas public education system must evolve to better serve our students and educators. Relying solely on standardized tests to determine success or failure is a narrow approach that doesn't fully capture the complexity of education.

Standardized tests should primarily serve as tools to help our students discover their pathways to success. They can provide valuable insights into a student's strengths and areas that may need improvement, guiding educators in tailoring their teaching methods to individual needs.

However, using student test scores as the sole metric for determining teacher pay or school accountability ratings is overly simplistic and can lead to unintended consequences, such as narrowing the curriculum to "teach to the test." We should explore more holistic and comprehensive methods for evaluating teachers and measuring student progress, considering factors beyond test scores, such as classroom observations, student engagement, and overall growth.

9. In your opinion, what is the proper balance between accommodating an individual parent’s or student’s wishes and the taxpaying community’s interest in directing and maintaining an optimal educational environment for the student population as a whole?

Finding the proper balance between accommodating individual parent's or student's wishes and the taxpaying community's interest in maintaining an optimal educational environment for all students is a delicate challenge. While it's crucial to respect the rights and choices of individual parents and students, we also have a responsibility to ensure that our education system serves the greater good and meets the needs of the entire student population. Education is a public good funded by taxpayers, and it should provide a well-rounded and equitable experience for all students.

Therefore, the balance should lean towards prioritizing the collective interests of the community while still accommodating individual preferences to a reasonable extent. This means that our education policies should be designed to promote diversity, inclusivity, and equal access to educational opportunities for all students, regardless of their background or individual preferences.

It's essential to strike a balance where parents and students have choices within the framework of a well-funded, high-quality public education system that serves the broader community's interests in fostering a strong, educated citizenry and a thriving society.

10. Do you believe the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) should be maintained as a traditional defined-benefit pension plan for all future, current, and retired educators, or do you support converting TRS to a defined-contribution structure that is more like a 401(k) plan, in which future benefits are not guaranteed?

Absolutely, I firmly believe that the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) should be maintained as a traditional defined-benefit pension plan for all current, future, and retired educators. The traditional defined-benefit pension plan provides essential economic security and retirement benefits for our hardworking teachers, who have dedicated their careers to shaping the future of our communities.

Converting TRS to a defined-contribution structure, resembling a 401(k) plan, would jeopardize the retirement security of our educators and fail to address the longstanding issue of teacher underpayment. The traditional pension plan ensures that our teachers have a reliable and guaranteed source of income in their retirement years, which is crucial given the modest salaries many educators receive throughout their careers.

Protecting TRS as a defined-benefit plan is not only a matter of economic security for our teachers but also a recognition of the invaluable contribution they make to our society. We must honor their dedication by ensuring they have a retirement plan that offers financial stability and peace of mind during their retirement years.

11. State law allows educators and other public employees to voluntarily choose to join professional associations such as ATPE and have membership dues deducted from their paychecks at no cost to taxpayers. Do you support or oppose letting all public employees continue to exercise this right?

I wholeheartedly support the right of educators and all public employees to exercise their choice in joining professional associations and having their membership dues deducted from their paychecks. This fundamental right is essential for collective bargaining and ensures that public employees have the ability to come together and advocate for their interests.

Protecting the right to engage in collective action and participate in professional associations is crucial for maintaining a fair and equitable workplace, where employees have a voice and can work collectively to address their concerns and improve their working conditions. It is a fundamental aspect of our democracy and must be upheld and safeguarded.

Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey


I want to express my sincere gratitude to ATPE for presenting these important questions to candidates and for considering me for endorsement. As a lifelong educator, I hold a deep appreciation for our fundamental rights, including the right to join together and advocate for our profession. This right to take collective action is a cornerstone of our democratic society, and I am proud to stand alongside ATPE in championing these principles. Thank you for your dedication to the betterment of education in Texas, and I look forward to working together to ensure a brighter future for our students and educators.