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Cassandra Hernandez
Texas House District 115







PO Box 1289, Addison, TX, 75001

Additional Information

Hernandez lost a May 24 runoff in the 2022 Democratic primary for Texas House District 70. 

Endorsed by the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News in the May 2022 Democratic primary runoff election.

Candidate Survey Responses


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

My main goals are to continue to oppose voucher schemes that defund public schools, and instead increase the basic allotment, as three-fourths of school districts in House District 115 are facing historic deficits. The only path to real, long-term property tax reductions is for the state to pay its share for public education like it used to, so that the burden can be taken off taxpayers, particularly as communities in House District 115 and beyond expand and go up in value continually which would also help address some recapture burden on three of the four school districts in HD115. Increasing teacher pay and strengthening TRS to address the burnout, resignations and staffing shortages we face across the state. Ending our violation of federal law when it comes to the funding of special education and inclusion of our intellectually and physically disabled students. Returning local control to our districts and local authorities when it comes to funding, curriculum, public health, and school safety.

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?

I do not agree with any proposals that defund our public education - especially voucher schemes that will take precious resources away from our already-struggling public schools. Studies show that school districts in HD115 would lose millions of dollars more if even a small percentage of families use vouchers to attend public schools.

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?

I am against under/unfunded mandates, especially HB3. I have confirmed with our school district leadership that it is absolutely a fact that our districts are grappling with implementing HB3 from lack of funding to the inability to find security personal needed to be compliant. As an Everytown Fellow, Mom’s Demand member, and someone who has been personally impacted by gun violence, we know that more guns in our school do not make them safer. I will work to implement reasonable gun safety reforms to stop gun violence and ensure children are safe at school. Practical policy changes save lives, such as requiring background checks on all sales, raising the age to purchase a rifle to 21, implementing red flag laws, prohibiting assault weapons/bump stocks/conversion devices, educating our parents and students about guns and proper storage through the Be Smart Program, creation of threat identification and assessment programs in school, and working with our law enforcement to institute buyback events to properly dispose of guns. All of these reforms combined with investing in access to mental health resources for all Texans would truly make an impact in gun violence in our communities so that tragedies like Uvalde & Santa Fe don’t happen again.

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?

Yes, I do. First and foremost we know that the Legislature has the funds to invest in public education. But certainly we should've utilized some of that historic surplus in the 88th Session to increase the basic allotment. Additionally, I support efforts to find new sources of revenue, so that increases in education funding are permanent, and not one-time affairs. Increasing the state's share of funding would also reduce the reliance on the recapture system of school finance.

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?

We should be cultivating a pro-public education environment in Texas, and showcasing becoming a teacher as a viable career path to young adults. That means increasing salary and benefits for teachers, expanding the public service loan forgiveness program, and halting our current attitude of dumping more and more responsibilities on public schools (without the proper support). We expect teachers now to purchase supplies out of their own pocket, inject them into divisive culture wars (that target teachers, librarians, & children), and now, are asking teachers in certain communities to bring firearms into the classroom. This must end - instead, I'll support increased funding & support, rolling back legislation, and taking systematic, common-sense solutions to public safety.

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. We know that we have the funds to do this - and I support increasing funding for school districts so that each ISD in Texas can do their own approach to increasing teacher salaries. We know that a one-size-fits-all legislative fiat would be unsuccessful when we have districts of such varying size - even right here in HD115.

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?

Currently teachers rates are tied to plans in which their district pick varying in how many intend on using the plan. We know that rates are much lower when more people are included. I believe a creation of a statewide insurance system for teachers just makes sense and even better rolling teachers into the ERS system would benefit not only teachers but current state employees in the system since more people will be included. In addition to this, we should make sure that we increase funding so that teachers are paid what they deserve while considering the cost of their other needs like health insurance.

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.?

Tying high-stakes testing to school funding and "ranking" from TEA has been a clear mistake, particularly as TEA has changed the ranking formula without warning or input from stakeholders, painting a false picture that some schools have worsened. While some sort of evaluation is needed, we cannot ignore teachers and parents' concerns that our children are being less prepared for the future and instead being taught how to "take the test". High-stakes testing is failing the next generation of Texans, and I will seek to de-emphasize their role in funding and rankings if elected.

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?

One of the things I loved most about growing up in Texas was our mentality of, “folks minding their own business”. I also remember hearing leaders brag in the past that Texas valued small government. I feel those values are being betrayed by state leadership today. Most parents I know are secure in the knowledge that they themselves have the greatest influence on their children. They aren’t threatened by a diverse library. We have bigger things to be concerned about in public education - like a massive staffing shortage and safety issues. Let’s solve those problems and not micromanage every school librarian & teacher in the state of Texas. If a parent wishes for their child to not be exposed to certain content at school, that's fine - but it shouldn't lead to that desire vetoing other parent's wishes.

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?

I oppose the conversion of TRS plans precisely for the reasons stated in the question. We only just now provided a cost-of-living adjustment for our retired teachers (who retired in the specific time frame, not every retired teacher) - we cannot allow this earned benefit to be removed for those in the classroom today, particularly those who went through the pandemic. Our teacher shortage in this state will only worsen if we minimize one of the main benefits that being a Texas teacher entails.

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 support this right, and support the right of public sector employees to unionize and collectively bargain & organize.

Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey

Comments submitted in response to the 2024 ATPE Candidate Survey:

I have had the honor of being the only candidate running in HD115 to have the support of current and former school board members around the district, and the Texas Allied Federation of Teachers. I was proud to bus members of our community to Austin to rally against vouchers last year, and hold a public education town hall to educate our neighbors on the dangers that vouchers pose to our public education system. Finally, I was the only candidate in this race to have face-to-face conversations with voters about the importance of voting for Prop 9 in the 2023 Texas Constitutional Amendment Election. Public schools shaped me, and if elected, I am committed to fighting for our kids, teachers, support staff, and public education community in the Texas Legislature.