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Merrie Fox
Texas Senate District 25



Executive Director of Non-Profit / Retired Principal



Additional Information

Candidate Survey Responses


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

The most pressing issue that must be addressed for public education is defeating any type of proposed voucher program. Additional top priorities include guarding against religious programming in schools and ensuring curriculum standards that are accurate and inclusive.

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 will never support any type of voucher program. Public money MUST be kept in public schools. Period.

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?

School safety measures such as building standards, access restrictions, and crisis training, all of which are included in HB 3, are important to student and staff safety but they must be funded by the state. Otherwise, districts are left without any option other than redirecting money in an already tight budget from other areas to cover these costs. To avoid unfunded mandates, I will work with colleagues to increase the Basic Allotment funding for public education.

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?

Texas public schools should absolutely receive additional funding. Currently, Texas ranks 42nd when it comes to per-pupil spending but consistently increases accountability measures and unfunded mandates. It is outrageous that state leaders are able and willing to allocate almost $10 billion dollars to address concerns about the border while failing to increase public school funding in the past five years. Texas legislators have the ability to appropriately support public education. They choose not to.

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?

Having qualified, effective teachers in every classroom is vital to the success of our children. To help ensure this reality, I will advocate for legislation that creates a partnership between colleges and school districts to help paraprofessionals, who are already working with students and are familiar with the school setting, to obtain their teaching certification. Additional legislation that would also increase the pool of certified teacher candidates includes accepting the credentials of teachers who move to Texas from other states and decreasing the financial penalty imposed on school districts when hiring retired teachers.

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?

I support a state-funded pay increase for all Texas educators. School districts typically raise teacher salaries around 2% each year. However, inflation ranges from 3-8% each year. The accumulative impact of inadequate annual raises drives many educators from the profession within five years.

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 health care market in Texas must increase transparency in pricing and quality of care in order to slow the rate of rising medical costs. In addition, alternative structures for how health care is funded and provided across the state should be considered. In the meantime, I would advocate for an update to the TRS-ActiveCare program in which the financial requirements have remained unchanged since its inception in 2001. In this system, school districts are required to pay a minimum of $150 toward an employee's premium and the state contributes $75 per employee. More than two decades ago, the combined amount of $225 covered the total premium for most employees. Today, however, the average premium for educators has more than tripled.

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.?

When used properly, standardized testing provides valuable information to districts about the level of learning for individual and groups of students. The results allow administrators to allocate funds where they are most needed at the campus level and they allow teachers to develop focused instruction to close learning gaps. It is HIGHLY inappropriate to use standardized testing for any other purpose including teacher evaluations, teacher pay, or school ratings.

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?

Public schools are for the benefit of communities and society as a whole. I believe that as long as each student has equal access to curriculum and programming (through Special Education or Section 504 accommodations) and maintains their Constitutional rights without disrupting learning (as upheld by the US Supreme Court), the wishes of an individual student or parent is secondary to the collective needs of the school community.

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 converting TRS to a system that allows variation in contribution and investment decisions, similar to a 401(k).

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 absolutely support the option for public employees to join professional associations and have membership dues deducted from their paychecks. The benefits provided by these organizations are invaluable to employees!

Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey


Without a properly funded and overtly supported public education system, society cannot and will not flourish. Advocating for those who give everything they have to the education of our children is, and will remain, my number one priority.