user avatar
Lauren Simmons
Texas House District 146



Union Organizing Director


PO Box 56386, Houston, TX, 77256

Additional Information

Advanced to a runoff for Texas House District 146 in the 2024 Democratic primary election.

Endorsed in the 2024 Democratic primary election by the Houston Chronicle editorial board.

Candidate Survey Responses


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

Restore control of HISD to democratically elected officials and unwind the damage caused by the TEA takeover.

Fully fund a free, public education that enables Texas children “to achieve their potential and fully participate now and in the future in the social, economic, and educational opportunities of our state and nation” – as required by the Texas Constitution and Texas Education code.

Increase wages for teachers and educational support personnel to a level where we can attract and retain quality teachers and staff.

End Texas’ over-reliance on high-stakes standardized testing. Our children are not standardized.

Spend public dollars on public schools, not private schools or voucher schemes.

Repeal laws and policies that amount to government-sanctioned censorship, including the recently passed book ban and ban on teaching critical race theory and other teachings on Black history.

Repeal the law that dismantled diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) offices at Texas colleges and universities.

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?

Public tax dollars should be used for public schools, not private schools. The state should focus on fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide every Texas child with a quality public education. I can understand the frustration of parents with children in lower-performing schools. But the answer is to fully fund public education and make smart, data-driven decisions that support better learning – not to create a separate system with little accountability and no mandate to provide a quality public education for every child.

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 will fight for full state funding of all costs of public education, including school safety. But the state must also make our schools safer by passing common-sense gun safety laws, including an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, red flag / extreme risk protection orders, higher minimum age to buy a gun, and safe storage requirements. In addition, the state must restore local control over gun regulations in cities and counties.

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?

As a union organizer, HISD parent activist, and Texan, I will fight to hold the state accountable to our constitution and laws. Public schools must serve all children, regardless of their needs, backgrounds, neighborhoods, or abilities. The Texas Constitution and Texas law requires the state to fully fund a free, public education that enables Texas children “to achieve their potential and fully participate now and in the future in the social, economic, and educational opportunities of our state and nation.”

Robin Hood is not the answer. It is a band-aid and one that is seriously flawed at that. Robin Hood takes money from HISD, which is deemed a property-wealthy school district, even though nearly 60% of students are eligible to participate in the federal free and reduced price meal program and nearly 37% of students are English language learners. Robin Hood is failing these students. Both of my children attend under-resourced HISD schools in Third Ward. I attended the same schools as a child. I have seen first hand the negative impacts Robin Hood creates for schools in our community. The answer is for the state to fully fund a quality public education for every child. If that were to happen, Robin Hood would be unnecessary.

I support across-the-board pay raises for teachers and support-personnel (and for all state employees). I am a union organizer and have been an organizer and fierce advocate for Texas state employees and Houston teachers in my career. I am a proud CWA member and shop steward. I will work with anyone to get living wages and benefits for people who deserve them. I will do what I do best – organize, educate, and mobilize – to achieve this goal.

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 wages for teachers, as I described above. We must preserve defined benefit pension plans and fund them. We must make sure teacher health care benefits are keeping up with the cost of health care. We must stop tying teachers’ compensation to their students’ standardized test results and/or unreliable student surveys. We must stop creating exceptions to certification requirements, including repealing the Districts of Innovation exceptions.

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?

Yes. Increasing wages to level the playing field is not only the right thing to do, but also necessary to encourage the best and brightest to choose Texas. The only way we can compete on the national stage is by ensuring that our state institutions like universities and agencies like HHS are able to attract talent and maintain staff.

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?

The cost of health care continues to skyrocket. We have to keep up with the price increases so that all educators have access to affordable health care. Texas should remove all obstacles to access to health care for all Texans, including accepting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

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.?

No. Texas’ continuing over-reliance on high-risk standardized testing may be good for Republican politicians, but it is not a strategy that best serves our public schools. I agree with you that “children are not standardized.” The A-F grading system is heavily weighted on the STAAR test, which is already biased against low-income, minority children, and on attendance and graduation and dropout rates, which are heavily affected by poverty.

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?

We need to get politics out of our public education system. While I certainly support making accommodations for the healthcare, safety, and learning needs of students, censorship, book bans, and other considerations are not appropriate.

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 support defined benefit plans. Public employees deserve to retire with security and dignity. Many employees accepted lower wages and poor working conditions on the promise of a secure retirement. The state should bear the risk of a poor economy or bad investments; It has reaped the rewards of employees’ labor, often underpaid, during their years of active employment.

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?

These so-called payroll protection schemes are in fact payroll deception scams. I agree they are directly contrary to the right to organize, and I will organize to fight against them at every turn. When I was an organizer with the Houston Federation of Teachers, our current governor called special sessions to get this anti-union legislation passed. Because of the threat, we spent months working to convert our members to a different payment system to ensure that if the bill passed, we would still be able to function. I remember just how fearful we were as organizers, but it was the members who knew exactly what not having access to union meant for them as workers. It was a blatant attempt to dismantle unions and silence working people. That bill did not pass in part due to our collective unions working together to lobby our legislators who ultimately had the power to stop it. Having legislators who understand the labor movement is critical to our survival and labor will always be a priority for me as a legislator.

Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey

No additional comments