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Denise Wilkerson
Texas House District 94



Retired attorney


PO Box 14332, Arlington, TX, 76094

Additional Information

Candidate Survey Responses


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

Oppose Vouchers

Raise Teacher Pay & Retirement Benefits

Increase Special Education funding

Increase student allotment

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?


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 would like to see the studies that show that armed security increases school safety more than the passage of common sense gun safety laws. For example, raising the minimum age for purchase of assault rifles. If the state passes mandatory measures for public schools, I believe that they should be required to fund them.

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. Improving funding for public schools in Texas could involve exploring a combination of measures such as revising funding formulas, increasing state funding, and addressing disparities among districts. Community engagement and input are also essential in shaping effective education funding policies.

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?

Ensuring an adequate number of qualified and certified teachers in Texas will involve investing in teacher training programs, offering competitive salaries and benefits, and creating supportive working environments. Additionally, addressing factors like teacher retention and professional development opportunities can contribute to a stronger educator workforce.

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?


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?

We can address healthcare insurance costs for teachers by exploring policy reforms, such as: 1. Group Negotiations: Pooling teachers together for group negotiations with insurance providers can lead to better rates.

2. Subsidies and Funding: Allocating state funds to subsidize healthcare costs for teachers can make insurance more affordable.

3. Legislation for Competitive Rates: Enacting legislation that encourages competition among insurance providers can lead to competitive rates.

4. Healthcare Reform:Exploring broader healthcare reforms to address systemic issues contributing to rising costs.

5. Teacher Wellness Programs:Investing in wellness programs can prevent health issues, potentially reducing long-term healthcare costs.

Collaborating with educators, unions, and healthcare experts is essential to develop effective and sustainable solutions.

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.?

Excessive testing leads to a narrowed curriculum and increased stress. Striking a balance, focusing on meaningful assessments, and using results for targeted improvements are essential for standardized testing to be effective in supporting education in Texas.

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?

Balancing the needs and expectations of individual students or parents with those of taxpayers and the overall student body in Texas schools requires a nuanced approach. Striking this balance involves: 1. Individualized Support: Recognizing and addressing the unique needs of individual students to ensure their success and well-being.

2. Equitable Funding: Ensuring that taxpayer funds are distributed fairly and used effectively to support a high-quality education for all students.

3. Holistic Assessment: Employing assessments that consider individual progress alongside overall student body performance, providing a comprehensive view of educational effectiveness.

4. Community Engagement:Involving parents, taxpayers, and the community in decision-making processes to reflect diverse perspectives and values.

Ultimately, a collaborative and transparent educational system that values both individual growth and the collective success of the student body is key to achieving an optimal balance.

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?

Yes. Defined benefit plans for retired teachers offer several benefits:

1. Guaranteed Income: Retired teachers receive a fixed, guaranteed income throughout their retirement, providing financial stability.

2. Risk Mitigation: The investment and longevity risks are borne by the pension fund rather than the individual, reducing the financial uncertainties for retirees.

3. Lifetime Income: Teachers receive pension payments for life, ensuring a steady income stream even in old age.

4. Crediting Service Years: Pension calculations often consider years of service, rewarding long-term dedication to the profession.

5. Attracting and Retaining Talent: Defined benefit plans can attract and retain educators by offering a reliable and attractive retirement package.

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?


Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey

I am sick and tired of the fact that our public schools have been financially starved for years by the state and now they are being demonized for not being “competitive”. This issue is a priority to me because I believe quality public schools are the backbone of our society.