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Erin Shank
Texas House District 56







PO Box 32672, Waco, TX, 76703

Additional Information

Candidate Survey Responses


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

Voting against voucher and voting for a large teacher pay raise and increase in funding for public education. I am a product of public schools and want to support them against Abbott's voucher scheme.

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. Simple as that. No.

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?

First, the legislature should never require schools to adopt measures without funding those measures, especially in our under funded school environment. I believe in strong gun safety measures that do not violate the 2nd amendment, such as increasing the age to purchase a weapon and red flag laws. If adopted, these measures could have stopped both the El Paso Walmart shooter and the Uvalde shooter, whose nickname was "School Shooter". I think schools should be free to implement metal detectors at their entrances, which have proven to make our courthouses and airports safer and the legislature should provide funding for those detectors. I also strongly believe that each local school board should be consulted and encouraged to provide school safety measures that they believe will make their schools safer. They are the "boots on the ground" and know what is necessary for their local schools to make them a safe place for students to learn.

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?

It is my understanding that the entire 2023 surplus was not spent and that another $22 billion surplus is expected in 2024. Also, expanding Medicare is a very easy way to provide more funding for our public schools. Our tax dollars are paid to Washington and then Washington sends Medicare expansion money back to the states. By continuing to refuse that $8 billion each year by refusing to expand Medicare, the Texas Legislature is forcing us to pay for indigent health care in Texas through our property taxes. So, we are paying for indigent health care in Texas twice, once in our tax dollars and again through our property taxes. Expanding Medicare would allow us to use those property tax dollars to more fully fund our schools and teachers and provide much needed health care for millions of Texans. Expanding our electric grid so that we can sell our excess energy in times of surplus is another source of income. The on-line sports betting lobby and Casino lobby will be arguing strongly for their legalization in the next session. If those measures pass both chambers and are signed in by the Governor, the vast majority of the income raised should be dedicated to fully funding our public schools.

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 must increase our teacher pay. This is the primary reason we have a teacher shortage. We need to vastly increase teacher pay, and look at the expensive cost of health insurance offered to teachers. Supplying teachers with health insurance is vital, it's just too expensive in Texas and the legislature should try to reduce those costs for our teachers and support staff. We should also look at forgiving student loans for teachers who have reached certain performance goals and longevity in the public school teaching profession and help fund education costs for teachers who want to continue their education in order to further their teaching career.

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, no question. It should be our state's number one priority.

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?

I agree that cost of health insurance is too high for our teachers. The State of Texas is such a large customer for the purchase of health care that we should be able to lower those costs. Also, many employers subsidize a portion of their employee's health insurance costs and the State of Texas should do that as well.

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.?

I definitely do not believe that teacher pay should be used to determine teacher pay. This would discourage good teachers from teaching in challenged schools. I definitely disagree with the A-F rating on Texas schools. Giving an entire school an "F", is so deflating for the students and teachers as well. Every teacher that I speak with hate that they have to "teach to the test". In Texas, we are requiring more subjects on the STAR test that are required under national standards and that should stop. In essence, I believe way to emphasis is being placed on standardized testing and is hurting our students and stifling

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?

Schools are really operated as small democracies. Our School Boards are elected and appoint a Superintendent who then governs the schools in the school district. Voters vote for the school board and can vote out individuals in elections. Just like a democracy, the best interest of the students and teachers as a whole must strive to be achieved. As the parent of a special education student, I had success with advocating for my child's individual needs even though she was attending school in a very large and very diverse school district. Also, if one parent wants to ban books for all students, I believe that should not be allowed. All parents are given a list of the books that their students are reading each year. If a specific parent has a problem with a book on that list, perhaps that student should be allowed to read a different book without prohibiting all students from reading a book due to one parent's complaints or desires.

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 believe that the TRS should be maintained so that future benefits are guaranteed. Just like Social Security, many retirees depend on TRS for their sole or primary source of income and so it is dangerous to put those funds in a vehicle that is not guaranteed. I do think it is patently unfair that teachers in Texas are not also allowed to pay into and thus receive Social Security in addition to their TRS retirement. Teachers should be allowed to drawn on both TRS and Social Security.

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 strongly support teacher unions and believe that all teachers should be allowed to organize and join a union and so have their union dues paid as payroll deductions from their pay checks. I am a strong supporter of this issue.

Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey


In HD 56 (Waco and most of McLennan County) I am the only candidate that supports our public schools and opposes vouchers. The future of our public schools is on the ballot this year. I strong support public schools, will advocate for strong teacher raises and will oppose this massive voucher scheme which is simply the first step in an attempt by big business to privatize our public schools in Texas. "Don't Walmart our public schools", is my motto.