Tag Archives: Van de Putte

Shuffling the legislative deck: An update on special elections in Texas

With the start of the legislative session merely days away, many Texans still don’t know who will represent them in the 84th Legislature. A special election was held Jan. 6 to fill vacancies in three legislative districts – Senate District 26, House District 17, and House District 123. However, since no candidate earned enough votes to win outright, all three of those races are headed to an eventual runoff on a date yet to be determined by Gov. Rick Perry. Meanwhile, yet another special election is slated for next Tuesday, Jan. 13, for a vacancy in House District 13. A shuffling of legislators seeking other opportunities following the November 2014 general election has necessitated the sudden string of special elections.

In HD 17, Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Lexington) is stepping down in order to become general counsel at the Texas Department of Agriculture, a post appointed by the new commissioner of agriculture, Sid Miller, who was elected in November. There were five candidates on the HD 17 ballot Tuesday, but Republicans John Cyrier and Brent Golemon earned a spot in the runoff, garnering 46 and 25 percent of the votes, respectively. Cyrier has already received a number of notable endorsements, including one from the pro-public education group Texas Parent PAC.

The HD 123 vacancy is the result of Rep. Mike Villarreal’s (D-San Antonio) recent decision to resign and run for mayor of San Antonio later this year. Six candidates filed to run in Tuesday’s HD 123 special election; the two advancing to the runoff include Democrat Diego Bernal, who almost avoided a runoff with 47 percent of Tuesday’s vote. Bernal has also been endorsed by Texas Parent PAC. The second-place finisher was Republican Nunzio Previtera, who received 21 percent of the vote.

After running unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2014, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) has also decided to throw her hat in the race for mayor of San Antonio, creating a vacancy in SD 26 with her resignation from the Senate. There were five candidates on Tuesday’s SD 26 ballot, and not surprisingly, the top vote-getters were two sitting state representatives, who are also Democrats. Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, who currently represents HD 116, earned 43 percent of the vote, while Rep. Jose Mendendez of HD 124 received a quarter of the votes. Ultimately, the governor will be forced to call yet another special election to fill a vacancy left in the Texas House by either Martinez Fischer or Menendez, depending on the outcome of the HD 123 runoff, which is likely to take place in February.

Next week’s special election in HD 13 will determine a successor for former Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). Kolkhorst won a special election in December to become a state senator, succeeding former senator Glenn Hegar. Hegar resigned his SD 18 seat after being elected Texas comptroller in November. There are four candidates vying for the HD 13 seat next Tuesday: Becky BergerCarolyn Cerny BilskiLeighton Schubert, and Cecil Webster, Sr. Bilski, currently serving as a county judge, has received the endorsement of Texas Parent PAC.

View profiles of the candidates on Teach the Vote, and stay tuned to our blog for announcements about runoff and future election dates.

General Election Results: By the numbers

In the Nov. 4 general election for Texas Governor and Lieutenant Governor, the following is a breakdown of the votes cast and corresponding percentages with 98.98% of precincts reporting as of Nov. 5:

Governor
Greg Abbott (Republican)            2,778,461 (59.29%)
Wendy R. Davis (Democrat)        1,821,494 (38.87%)
Kathie Glass (Libertarian)                 66,045 (1.40%)
Brandon Parmer (Green)                  18,369 (0.39%)
Sarah M. Pavitt (Write-In)                   1,155 (0.02%)

Lieutenant Governor
Dan Patrick (Republican)                2,707,566 (58.18%)
Leticia Van de Putte (Democrat)    1,799,505 (38.66%)
Robert D. Butler (Libertarian)            119,076 (2.55%)
Chandrakantha Courtney (Green)      27,544 (0.59%)


Here are the outcomes by percentage of all Texas State Senate races that were contested on the Nov. 4 general election ballot:

Senate District 2
Bob Hall (R) with 83.6% defeated Don Bates (L) with 16.4%. Hall defeated incumbent Sen. Bob Deuell (R) in a primary match-up earlier this year.

Senate District 3
Incumbent Robert Nichols (R) with 90.6% trounced Tyler Lindsey (L) with 9.4%.

Senate District 5
Incumbent Charles Schwertner (R) with 65% won over Joel Shapiro (D) with 31.2% and Matthew Whittington (L) with 3.8%.

Senate District 7
Paul Bettencourt (R) with 71.8% defeated Jim Davis (D) with 26.3% and Whitney Bilyeu (L) with 1.9%. This is the seat being vacated by Sen. Dan Patrick (R) who was elected Lieutenant Governor last night.

Senate District 8
In the seat currently held by Ken Paxton, who won last night’s race to become Attorney General, current State Rep. Van Taylor (R) earned 79% of the votes to convincingly defeat Scott Jameson (L) with 21%. A Democratic candidate, Jack Ternan, withdrew from the race.

Senate District 9
Incumbent Kelly Hancock (R) with 65.1% defeated Gregory Perry (D) with 34.9%. A Libertarian candidate, Nicolas Wallace, withdrew from the race.

Senate District 10
Konni Burton (R) earned 52.8% to defeat Libby Willis (D) at 44.7%, Gene Lord (L) at 1.8% and John Tunmire (G) at 0.6%,

Senate District 14
Incumbent Kirk Watson (D) beat James Strohm (L) by a hefty margin of 80% to 20%.

Senate District 15
Incumbent John Whitmire (D) with 59.2% defeated Ron Hale (R) with 38.5% and Gilberto Velasquez, Jr. (L) with 2.4%.

Senate District 16
Don Huffines (R) was declared the victor after his opponent, Mike Dooling (L), apparently withdrew from the race. Huffines previously defeated incumbent Sen. John Carona (R) in a primary contest back in March.

Senate District 17
Incumbent Joan Huffman (R) with 63.3% defeated Rita Lucido (D) with 33.9%. George Hardy (L) earned just 2% of the vote while David Courtney (G) earned 0.7%.

Senate District 23
Incumbent Royce West (D) earned 79.4% of the vote to soundly defeat John Lawson (R) at 18.8% and Jonathan Erhardt (L) at 1.8%.

Senate District 25
Incumbent Donna Campbell (R) with 65.2% was the winner over Daniel Boone (D) with 31.8% and Brandin Lea (L) with 3%.

Senate District 30
Incumbent Craig Estes (R) with 86.7% defeated Cory Lane (L) with 13.3%.

Senate District 31
Incumbent Kel Seliger (R) with 90.4% easily prevailed over Steven Gibson (L) with 9.6%.


Below is the full list of results for contested Texas State House races in the Nov. 4 general election:

House District 3
Incumbent Cecil Bell (R) – 91%
Larry Parr (L) – 9%

House District 4
Stuart Spitzer (R) – 89.1%
Frederick Rick Stralow (L) – 10.9%
Spitzer defeated incumbent Rep. Lance Gooden in the March 2014 primary election.

House District 5
Incumbent Bryan Hughes (R) – 92.3%
Ron Walenta (L) – 7.7%

House District 6
Incumbent Matt Schaefer (R) – 87.8%
Joel Gardner (L) – 12.2%

House District 8
Incumbent Byron Cook (R) – 87.9%
John Wilford (L) – 12.1%

House District 14
Incumbent John Raney (R) – 68.1%
Andrew Metscher (D) – 28.5%
Bruce Pugh (L) – 3.4%

House District 16 (open seat formerly held by Sen. Brandon Creighton)
Will Metcalf (R) – 83.8%
Michael Hayles (D) – 13.7%
Bob Townsend (L) – 2.6%

House District 17
Incumbent Tim Kleinschmidt (R) – 64.6%
Carolyn Banks (D) – 35.4%

House District 20
Incumbent Marsha Farney (R) – 73.3%
Stephen Wyman (D) – 22.7%
Jarrod Weaver (L) – 3.9%

House District 21 (open seat)
Dade Phelan (R) – 74.4%
Gavin Bruney (D) – 25.6%

House District 23 (open seat)
Wayne Faircloth (R) – 54.6%
Susan Criss (D) – 45.4%

House District 24
Incumbent Greg Bonnen (R) was the winner after challenger Joseph Whittington withdrew from the race.

House District 25
Incumbent Dennis Bonnen (R) was the winner after challenger Randall Goodson withdrew from the race.

House District 26
Incumbent Rick Miller (R) – 69.7%
Amber Paaso (D) – 30.3%

House District 27
Incumbent Ron Reynolds (D) – 67%
David Hamilton (R) – 33%

House District 41
Incumbent Bobby Guerra (D) – 57.5%
Elijah Casas (R) – 42.5%

House District 42
Incumbent Richard Pena Raymond (D) – 88.4%
Nicolas Serna, III (G) – 11.6%

House District 43
Incumbent J.M. Lozano (R) – 61.4%
Kim Gonzalez (D) – 38.6%

House District 44
Incumbent John Kuempel (R) – 75.7%
Robert Bohmfalk (D) – 24.3%

House District 45
Incumbent Jason Isaac (R) – 72.6%
Jim Duke (L) – 27.4%

House District 46
Incumbent Dawnna Dukes (D) – 84%
Kevin Ludlow (L) – 16%

House District 47
Incumbent Paul Workman (R) – 73%
Scott McKinlay (L) – 27%

House District 48
Incumbent Donna Howard (D) – 78.1%
Ben Easton (L) – 21.9%

House District 49
Incumbent Elliott Naishtat (D) – 85.1%
Daniel Krawisz (L) – 14.9%

House District 50
Incumbent Celia Israel (D) – 58.7%
Mike VanDeWalle (R) – 37.1%
David Dreesen (L) – 4.2%

House District 51
Incumbent Eddie Rodriguez (D) – 87.3%
Arthur DiBianca (L) – 12.7%

House District 52
Incumbent Larry Gonzales (R) – 56.4%
Chris Osborn (D) – 38.5%
Irene Johnson (L) – 5%

House District 53 (open seat)
Andrew Murr (R) – 89.9%
Maximilian Martin (L) – 10.1%

House District 54
Incumbent Jimmie Don Aycock (R) was the winner; challenger Claudia Brown (D) withdrew from the race.

House District 56
Incumbent Charles “Doc” Anderson (R) – 83.3%
Clifford Deuvall (L) – 16.7%

House District 58 (open seat)
DeWayne Burns (R) – 80.4%
Greg Kauffman (D) – 19.6%

House District 61
Incumbent Phil King (R) – 83%
Matthew Britt (D) – 17%

House District 63
Incumbent Tan Parker (R) – 77.3%
Daniel Moran (D) – 22.7%

House District 64
Incumbent Myra Crownover (R) – 63.4%
Emy Lyons (D) – 33.8%
Braeden Wright (G) – 2.8%

House District 65
Incumbent Ron Simmons (R) – 64.3%
Alex Mendoza (D) – 35.7%

House District 66 (open seat)
Matt Shaheen (R) was declared the winner after Ian Santorella withdrew from the race.

House District 67
Incumbent Jeff Leach (R) – 78.5%
Patrick Peavy (L) – 21.5%

House District 76
Cesar Blanco (D) – 87.1%
Alexandro Lozano (L) – 12.9%
Blanco defeated incumbent Rep. Naomi Gonzalez (D) in the March primary.

House District 77
Incumbent Marisa Marquez (D) – 78.2%
Ben Mendoza (I) – 21.8%

House District 82
Incumbent Tom Craddick (R) was the winner; challenger Dan Anderson withdrew from the race.

House District 83 (open seat formerly held by Sen. Charles Perry)
Dustin Burrows (R) – 81.2%
Max R. Tarbox (D) – 18.8%

House District 84
Incumbent John Frullo (R) – 72.7%
Edward Tishler (D) – 27.3%

House District 85
Incumbent Phil Stephenson (R) – 66.6%
Cynthia Drabek (D) – 33.4%

House District 87
Incumbent Four Price (R) – 84.3%
Abel Bosquez (D) – 15.7%

House District 88
Incumbent Ken King (R) – 93.2%
Kerry McKennon (L) – 6.8%

House District 89
Incumbent Jodie Laubenberg (R) – 71.6%
Sameena Karmally (D) – 28.4%

House District 91
Incumbent Stephanie Klick (R) – 68.7%
David Ragan (D) – 28.2%
Felecia Whatley (L) – 3.1%

House District 92
Incumbent Jonathan Stickland (R) – 63.6%
Tina Penney (D) – 36.4%

House District 93
Incumbent Matt Krause (R) was the winner; challenger Jeff Owens (L) withdrew from the race.

House District 94
Tony Tinderholt (R) – 56.6%
Cole Ballweg (D) – 40.5%
Robert Harris (L) – 2.9%
Tinderholt defeated incumbent Rep. Diane Patrick (R) in the March 2014 primary election.

House District 95
Incumbent Nicole Collier (D) – 75.8%
Albert McDaniel (R) – 24.2%

House District 96
Incumbent Bill Zedler (R) – 80.7%
Quinn Eaker (L) – 19.3%

House District 97
Incumbent Craig Goldman (R) – 81.6%
Rod Wingo (L) – 18.4%

House District 100
Incumbent Eric Johnson (D) – 90%
Brian Chapman (L) – 10%

House District 101
Incumbent Chris Turner (D) – 84.6%
Carl Nulsen (L) – 15.4%

House District 102
Linda Koop (R) – 62.5%
George Clayton (D) – 37.5%
Koop defeated incumbent Rep. Stefani Carter (R) in the March 2014 primary.

House District 105
Rodney Anderson (R) – 55.4%
Susan Motley (D) – 42.7%
Carl Spiller (L) – 1.8%
Anderson defeated incumbent Rep. Linda Harper-Brown (R) in the March 2014 primary.

House District 106
Incumbent Patrick Fallon (R) – 70%
Lisa Osterholt (D) – 27.5%
Rodney Caston (L) – 2.5%

House District 107
Incumbent Kenneth Sheets (R) – 55%
Carol Donovan (D) – 45%

House District 108 (open seat)
Morgan Meyer (R) – 60.7%
Leigh Bailey (D) – 39.3%

House District 112
Incumbent Angie Chen Button (R) – 81.6%
Michael Binkley (L) – 18.4%
Kimberly Williams (D) withdrew from the race.

House District 113
Incumbent Cindy Burkett (R) – 59.4%
Milton Whitley (D) – 40.6%

House District 114
Incumbent Jason Villalba (R) – 81.1%
Thomas Griffing (L) – 18.9%

House District 115
Matt Rinaldi (R) – 57.1%
Paul Stafford (D) – 39.5%
Kim Kelley (L) – 3.4%
Rinaldi defeated incumbent Rep. Bennett Ratliff (R) in the March 2014 primary election.

House District 117
Rick Galindo (R) – 52.7%
Incumbent Philip Cortez (D) – 47.3%

House District 120
Incumbent Ruth Jones McClendon (R) – 82.3%
Gilberto Villela (L) – 17.7%

House District 121
Incumbent Joe Straus (R) – 82.1%
Jeff Carruthers (I) – 17.9%

House District 122
Incumbent Lyle Larson (R) – 85%
James Holland (L) – 15%

House District 123
Incumbent Mike Villarreal (D) – 86.3%
Paul Ingmundson (G) – 13.7%

House District 125
Incumbent Justin Rodriguez (D) – 76.9%
Daniel Behrman (L) – 23.1%

House District 126
Incumbent Patricia Harless (R) – 86.3%
Cris Hernandez (L) – 13.7%

House District 128
Incumbent Wayne Smith (R) – 90.7%
Ken Lowder (L) – 9.3%

House District 129 (open seat)
Dennis Paul (R) – 67.8%
John Gay (D) – 32.2%

House District 130
Incumbent Allen Fletcher (R) – 90.8%
Art Browning (G) – 9.2%

House District 132 (open seat)
Mike Schofield (R) – 66.1%
Luis Lopez (D) – 33.9%

House District 133
Incumbent Jim Murphy (R) – 74.6%
Laura Nicol (D) – 25.4%

House District 134
Incumbent Sarah Davis (R) – 61.2%
Alison Ruff (D) – 38.8%

House District 135
Incumbent Gary Elkins (R) – 65.9%
Moiz Abbas (D) – 34.1%

House District 136
Incumbent Tony Dale (R) – 54.2%
John Bucy (D) – 41.4%
Justin Billiot (L) – 4.7%

House District 137
Incumbent Gene Wu (D) – 57.9%
Morad Fiki (R) – 42.1%

House District 138
Incumbent Dwayne Bohac (R) – 66.8%
Fred Vernon (D) – 33.2%

House District 144
Gilbert Pena (R) – 50.7%
Incumbent Mary Ann Perez (D) – 49.3%

House District 146
Incumbent Borris Miles (D) – 91.9%
Morgan Bradford (G) – 8.1%

House District 148
Incumbent Jessica Farrar (D) – 60.3%
Chris Carmona (R) – 39.7%

House District 149
Incumbent Hubert Vo (D) – 45.1%
Al Hoang (R) – 54.9%

House District 150
Incumbent Debbie Riddle (R) – 73.2%
Amy Perez (D) – 26.8%


Here are the results of all State Board of Education (SBOE) contested races on the Nov. 4 general election ballot, showing the number of votes cast and percentages as of Nov. 5:

Member, State Board of Education, District 3
Marisa B. Perez Incumbent (D) – 128,118 (59.49%)
Dave Mundy (R) – 80,485 (37.37%)
Josh Morales (L) – 6,727 (3.12%)
Total Votes 215,330 (only 98.57% of precincts had reported)

Member, State Board of Education, District 4
Lawrence A. Allen Jr. Incumbent (D) – 158,252 (76.45%)
Dorothy Olmos (R) – 48,729 (23.54%)
Total Votes 206,981 (100% of precincts)

Member, State Board of Education, District 7
David Bradley Incumbent (R) – 225,960 (63.87%)
Kathy King (D) – 119,789 (33.86%)
Megan DaGata (L) – 7,984 (2.25%)
Total Votes 353,733 (100% of precincts)

Member, State Board of Education, District 11
Patricia “Pat” Hardy Incumbent (R) – 242,032 (65.12%)
Nancy Bean (D) – 116,582 (31.36%)
Craig Sanders (L) – 13,034 (3.50%)
Total Votes 371,648 (100% of precincts)

Member, State Board of Education, District 12
Geraldine “Tincy” Miller Incumbent (R) – 221,418 (61.37%)
Lois Parrott (D) – 127,145 (35.24%)
Mark Wester (L) – 12,172 (3.37%)
Total Votes 360,735 (100% of precincts)

Member, State Board of Education, District 13
Erika Beltran (D) – 172,285 (89.82%)
Junart Sodoy (L) – 19,510 (10.17%)
Total Votes 191,795 (100% of precincts)

General Election Results: Republicans sweep statewide offices, gain seats in Legislature

Texas will welcome a new slate of statewide elected officials in January following yesterday’s general election. With 98.98% of all precincts reporting, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott won the Governor’s race with 59.29% of the votes. Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis trailed Abbott with 38.87% of the vote, followed by candidates from the Libertarian and Green parties and a write-in candidate. In the race for Lt. Governor, Republican Sen. Dan Patrick earned 58.18% of the vote to defeat his Senate colleague Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic nominee, who garnered 38.66% in yesterday’s contest. The Libertarian and Green parties also fielded candidates. A complete breakdown of the numbers in the statewide races can be found here.

In the race for Attorney General, current Sen. Ken Paxton (R) prevailed with nearly 59 percent of the votes, defeating Sam Houston (D). By roughly the same margin, another Republican, Sen. Glenn Hegar, defeated Democrat Mike Collier to become the state’s next Comptroller. A special election will be called to fill Hegar’s unexpired term in the Senate. Republican George P. Bush will become the state’s new Land Commissioner after garnering almost 61 percent of the votes cast in that race; he defeated Democrat John Cook. And in the race for Agriculture Commissioner, voters chose former State Rep. Sid Miller (R) over Jim Hogan (D). Libertarian and Green party candidates also ran in those races but garnered only about 3 percent or less of the vote totals in each contest.

One of the most disappointing statistics to come out of the Nov. 2014 general election is this one: only about one-third of all Texas registered voters turned out to cast votes statewide. Also of interest, in practically all of the statewide races, the Republican victor earned roughly 59 percent of the vote with Democratic candidates garnering approximately 38 percent. For the sake of comparison, the slate of Republican statewide candidates in 2010 defeated their Democratic opponents that year by a general margin of 60 to 40 percent.

Among contested races for the Texas State Senate this fall, only one was deemed truly competitive by most election watchers. In the race to fill the open seat of Sen. Wendy Davis, voters in Senate District 10 chose Republican Konni Burton over Democrat Libby Willis and two third-party candidates. Burton (R) earned 52.8% compared to the 44.7% earned by Willis (D), representing a difference of about 15,000 votes. With Burton’s win, the Republican party now holds 20 of the 31 seats in the Texas Senate, which is a net gain of one seat. The Democrats moved from holding 12 seats last year to holding 11 seats heading into 2015. With the loss of a seat, the Democratic minority in the Senate is still in a position to benefit from the upper chamber’s unique two-thirds rule, but Dan Patrick has signaled his desire to eliminate the two-thirds rule and is likely to pursue that option now that he has been elected as the Senate’s presiding officer in his role as Lt. Governor.

In races for the Texas State House, there were few surprising outcomes, but a handful of races were closely watched yesterday. In Galveston’s open race to fill the HD 23 seat of Rep. Craig Eiland (D), who retired, the Republican candidate Wayne Faircloth defeated well-known Democratic judge Susan Criss. Another closely watched race was in Arlington’s HD 94, where Republican Tony Tinderholt surprisingly defeated the incumbent and longtime education ally Rep. Diane Patrick during the primary elections this spring; Tinderholt prevailed last night over both Cole Ballweg (D) and Robert Harris (L). A race for HD 105 in Irving pitted Rodney Anderson (R) against Susan Motley (D) and a Libertarian candidate; Anderson, who is returning to the House, toppled incumbent Rep. Linda Harper-Brown (R) during a primary challenge earlier this year and similarly defeated both his opponents last night. In what has seemingly become a tradition in Houston’s HD 149, incumbent Rep. Hubert Vo (D) survived yet another challenge from the right this year when he defeated Al Hoang (R).

In a couple of races not as closely watched heading into yesterday’s election, there were two Democratic incumbents who lost narrowly to Republican challengers. In HD 117, incumbent Phillip Cortez (D) lost to challenger Rick Galindo (R) by a difference of four percentage points. In Houston’s HD 144, incumbent Mary Ann Perez (D) was just 155 votes behind her challenger, Gilbert Pena (R). With the defeat of Reps. Cortez and Perez, along with a Republican win in the open HD 23 race, the GOP picks up a net gain of three seats in the House, where the split will be 98 Republicans to 52 Democrats.

The full list of results by percentage in yesterday’s contested House and Senate races can be found here.

In contested races for the State Board of Education (SBOE), all incumbents retained their seats. Erika Beltran, a Democrat from Dallas, was elected to fill the only open seat in District 13 currently held by retiring board member Mavis Knight. A list of all the votes cast and corresponding percentages from yesterday’s contested SBOE races can be viewed here on Teach the Vote.

Journalists again dispute Dan Patrick’s education claims, turn to ATPE for facts

Back in September, we reported to you that the national fact-checking website PolitiFact had reviewed claims by Sen. Dan Patrick, a candidate for Texas Lieutenant Governor, about his education-related record in the State Senate. The PolitiFact journalists rated Patrick’s claim that he had worked to restore public education funding in 2013 as ridiculously false using its “Pants on Fire” rating. In researching the claim, PolitiFact turned to education experts, including ATPE’s lobby team for details about any efforts that were made in 2013 to restore massive funding cuts to public education the previous session.

Once again, PolitiFact has called into question an education-related claim by Patrick and interviewed several education experts, including ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter, to uncover the truth. Patrick’s most recent claim, offered in a television campaign ad, is directed at his opponent in the contentious race for Lieutenant Governor, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. Patrick claims in the ad that Van de Putte “voted to stop schools from removing teachers convicted of a felony,” but PolitiFact rated Patrick’s claim as “Mostly False.”

The controversy stems from a bill passed in 2011 that relates to school district employees who have been convicted of felonies. House Bill (HB) 1610 enables schools to fire educators convicted of felonies almost immediately without going through the normal due process channels that exist for other educators with employment contracts. Attorneys for school districts requested the legislation, insisting that it would save them the time and money of dealing with termination hearings and appeals for those employees. Several educator groups, including ATPE, voiced opposition to the bill because it called for a strict, zero-tolerance approach that would automatically terminate the employment of anyone with a felony conviction, regardless of the nature of the offense, how long ago it might have occurred, or whether it was the result of a plea bargain or deferred adjudication agreement. The bill did not give school districts the right to fire employees with felonies because they already had that right; in fact, under a major school safety bill passed in 2007 (Senate Bill 9), districts were already required to investigate educators’ criminal backgrounds and remove any dangerous employees from the classroom.

Patrick’s claim about the 2011 vote largely fails because of the fact that districts already had the ability to fire teachers before HB 1610 was proposed. As passed, HB 1610 now allows schools to void a teacher’s contract based on an offense that might be unrelated to the classroom or may have happened decades ago. ATPE and other educator groups were early opponents of the bill, since it cuts off contract rights owed to every other teacher because of an event potentially unrelated to the educator’s job performance. Further, the 2011 bill at the heart of Patrick’s claim was largely unnecessary, because under SB 9 that preceded HB 1610, school districts already know about any felony offenses in an educator’s background at the time of hire or contract renewal and can make the appropriate decision.

In 2011, Van de Putte voted for HB 1610 at one stage but voted against the bill when it moved through the Senate floor. She wanted to amend the bill to allow educators who had been convicted as a result of deferred adjudication to retain their due process rights under the contract laws and be entitled to a hearing prior to being terminated, but Patrick defeated her proposed amendment. Deferred adjudication cases often differ from ordinary convictions handed down by a judge or jury, because defendants may accept deferred adjudication simply because they cannot afford the time and money it takes to hire lawyers to defend their cases in court. It is, ironically, the same reason cited by school districts that pressed the legislature to make it easier for them to fire teachers without due process. As Van de Putte stated during Senate floor debate on HB 1610, “Deferred adjudication does not imply guilt.” When her amendment was killed, Van de Putte and eight other senators subsequently voted against the bill.

PolitiFact asked education experts to weigh in on whether a vote against HB 1610 could be considered a vote to prevent schools from firing teachers with felony convictions, as Patrick claimed in his campaign ad. They universally agreed that HB 1610 merely dealt with the due process provisions in existing law, not the schools’ underlying ability to fire teachers. ATPE’s Exter told reporters, “Voting down HB 1610 would not have stopped schools from removing teachers convicted of a felony; it would have simply required districts to continue to observe the teachers’ due process rights in situations not already covered by” the 2007 law (SB 9) that serves to keep violent and sex offenders out of our schools – a bill that that ATPE and other educator groups supported and Van de Putte voted in favor of passing. ATPE has consistently defended educators’ due process and contract rights, which have been slowly eroded over time, especially during budget crises. We and the legislators who opposed HB 1610 believed that educators employed under contracts should be entitled to due process before being systematically fired and that districts should consider the specific circumstances of each case before ultimately making the employment decisions that are best for their students and staff.

Based on factual information from ATPE and other sources about HB 1610, PolitiFact concluded, “There was never a vote to stop schools from firing teachers convicted of a felony.” They noted that “Van de Putte voted against making it easier to terminate such teachers – a toughening that was supported by Patrick to wipe out the right of teachers to request an independent hearing before being let go.” Patrick’s claim was rated by PolitiFact as “Mostly False.”

Watch candidates for Texas Governor and Lt. Governor debate next week

Learn more about candidates at the top of the ticket and where they stand on public education. Early next week, candidates for Texas Governor and Lieutenant Governor will debate each other in anticipation of Election Day, Nov. 4. Here are the debate details:

Also, be sure to check out ATPE’s statewide candidate profiles of the nominees for Governor and Lt. Governor. You can find those by clicking on their names above or by navigating to the Take Action/Resources tab.

Fact-checking group disputes Dan Patrick’s claim about education funding, cites ATPE

A national fact-checking group recently chided Sen. Dan Patrick, a candidate for Texas Lieutenant Governor, for making false claims about having worked to restore public education funding in 2013. PolitiFact is a website run by news journalists who research the validity of claims made by candidates and elected officials. PolitiFact gauges the accuracy of claims using its “Truth-O-Meter” ratings and reserves the lowest rating of “Pants on Fire” for claims it deems to be “the most ridiculous falsehoods.”

In 2011, the Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion in public education funds out of the state’s budget. Sen. Patrick was among those who voted for the cuts and opposed using money in the state’s Rainy Day Fund to offset them. With an improved financial outlook in 2013, legislators had an opportunity to restore some of the money that had been cut the previous session.

Last month, Sen. Patrick issued a written statement claiming that during the 2013 legislative session he had “led the charge to restore most of the education cuts” made in 2011. PolitiFact rated Patrick’s statement as a “Pants on Fire” claim, citing numerous credible sources, including an interview with ATPE Lobbyist Josh Sanderson.

Contrary to Patrick’s own assertion, evidence showed that he ultimately voted against the final 2013 appropriations bill that increased public education funding by $3.4 billion. Additionally, he authored legislation to limit state appropriations and require any future state surplus funds to go toward property tax relief, rather than for education or other needs. Another Patrick proposal in 2013 was a constitutional amendment that would have exempted certain residences from property taxes, thereby reducing the amount of revenue generated for public education. As further proof that Patrick was not interested in finding more money for public schools, Patrick also filed “mandate relief” legislation in 2013 to make it easier for school districts to lay off employees, reduce teachers’ salaries, and hire fewer teachers by increasing class sizes.

Patrick made it abundantly clear both before and throughout the 2013 legislative session that his education priorities for that session were changing school accountability laws, including imposing an A-through-F grading system for schools; increasing the number of charter schools; expanding “school choice” through public and private school vouchers; changing the state’s graduation plans to emphasize workforce readiness; and expanding virtual learning options. ATPE is unaware of any instance in which restoring the funding for public schools that had been slashed in 2011 was mentioned as a legislative priority for Patrick, who served as Chair of the Senate Education Committee during the 2013 session. As Sanderson told the PolitiFact reporters, Patrick “never responded positively” to proposals to increase education funding last year.

Currently, Patrick is the Republican party’s nominee for Lieutenant Governor in the upcoming November election, having defeated incumbent Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst in a primary election earlier this year. An email from the Dan Patrick campaign on Sept. 10 indicates that his education focus has not changed dramatically in the last year; the email identifies his education-related priorities as “providing more school choice”; “stopping Common Core,” the national curriculum standards that are already outlawed in Texas; “spending more efficiently”; and “expanding career and technology courses.” On the subject of education funding, Patrick adds in his campaign email, “We don’t need to throw more money at the problem; we need to use existing resources more efficiently.”

Report on Senate Education Committee’s interim hearing on testing and virtual schools

The Senate Education Committee met Aug. 26 to discuss two of its interim charges:

Senate Interim Charge #1 (Portion of Charge):

Examine STAAR writing scores for elementary, middle and high school students. For grade levels tested in writing, review the types of writing required. Explore the need for targeted professional development in writing.

Senate Interim Charge #2:

Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Education, 83rd Legislature, Regular and Called Sessions, and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance and/or complete implementation. Specifically, monitor the following: HB 5, SB 376, HB 617 and HB 1926.

The Committee heard from multiple panels as well as Commissioner of Education Michael Williams.

HB 5 and the STAAR writing test

The Committee heard testimony from a panel including Texas Education Agency (TEA) staff and educators about challenges involving the STAAR writing test as well as testimony from a separate panel and Commissioner Williams on STAAR cut scores.

Dr. Dawson Orr, the superintendent of Highland Park ISD, presented testimony that the STAAR writing test is seriously flawed, particularly in comparisons to instruments such as the ACT. He informed the committee that the writing curriculum standards (TEKS) are good, but the writing test does not capture the learning associated with those TEKS. Additionally, he pointed out that institutions of higher education are not looking for and do not care about the skills tested by the STAAR writing test. According to the witness, a 26-line formulaic writing test simply does not give us good information, and in some districts, may cause kids to learn to write poorly.

Commissioner Williams engaged in a conversation with the committee on the STAAR cut scores and the effectiveness of the testing regime generally. When pressed by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D–San Antonio) on the failures of the STAAR test, the Commissioner blamed the state’s failure to make more rapid gains on poor instruction. Many in the room equated his statements to shift blame from a poorly designed and administered test to educators. However, as one education representative noted, poor teaching would result in equally poor results across all test instruments gauging college readiness, which does not appear to be the case for students in many situations who are successful on other standardized and non-standardized measures of academic achievement.

SB 376

Senate Bill 376 by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D–Brownsville) expanded the School Breakfast Program for campuses where 80 percent or more of the student population qualifies for federal free or reduced breakfast. Under the bill, campuses meeting the 80 percent threshold must provide breakfast to 100 percent of the students at the campus, as opposed to only students who would otherwise qualify for free and reduced breakfast on their own. Despite the fact that the bill was cost-neutral to the state and school districts thanks to federal dollars, districts have the ability to opt out of the program by requesting a waiver. Of the approximately 2,600 campuses to which the bill applies, only 38 have requested a waiver.

HB 617

The committee heard testimony on the implementation of House Bill 617 by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D–Austin) which expands transition services for students with disabilities entering the workforce or a higher education setting. As a result of the bill, a transitions guide will be developed.

HB 1926

House Bill 1926 by Rep. Ken King (R–Canadian) made several modifications to the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN), which regulates both full-time virtual learning providers and the individual virtual course catalog.

A major amendment added to the bill by Sen. Van de Putte calls for a statewide broadband study of ISDs to determine the state’s technology and connectivity capacity. A TEA representative testified to the committee that the study should begin mid- to late September of this year and be concluded in November with results available mid- to late spring of next year.

TEA staff also reported to the committee that rules codifying the statutory requirements for HB 1926 have been adopted by the agency. In addition to new rules, there is a new design for the online portal to the TxVSN statewide catalog and new informed choice reports called for as a component of the legislation.

Additional public testimony was taken on both sides of the often contentious issue of virtual learning. A representative from iNACOL (a national association of virtual providers) voiced a complaint about the restriction on districts being required to offer students a virtual course that is substantially similar to a traditional, non-virtual one already offered by the ISD. Another testifier with the Foundation for Educational Excellence asked to consider taking quality control out of the hands of the districts and to increase the level of funding going to for-profit course providers. A representative from the Coalition for Public Schools (CPS) testified that control and accountability of the online learning environment should remain with districts that are accountable to taxpayers as opposed to private providers that are accountable only to their shareholders. The testifier also pointed out that while the coalition does not oppose the existence or limited use of online learning, a significant body of research points to it being a far less effective method of teaching kids.

All or part of the committee hearing can be found at the Texas Senate video archive under Senate Committee on Education 8/26/14.

Watch the speeches of Greg Abbott, Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte from the 2014 ATPE Summit

The Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) held its annual state event, the ATPE Summit, July 9–11, at the Austin Convention Center. As part of our effort to promote political involvement within the education community and informed voting in the November 4 general election, ATPE invited all of the Republican and Democratic nominees for Texas governor and lieutenant governor to speak to the more than 900 educators in attendance at the summit. (ATPE is a non-partisan association and does not endorse candidates.)

Both nominees for governor, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and Sen. Wendy Davis (D–Fort Worth), accepted our invitation, along with lt. governor nominee Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D–San Antonio). The other nominee for lt. governor, Sen. Dan Patrick (R–Houston), declined our invitation to speak.

If you were not at the summit, you now have the opportunity to view the candidates’ speeches in their entirety and share them with your friends and family. Each candidate’s speech has been split into two parts due to restrictions on the length of videos that can be posted online for public viewing, so be sure to watch both parts. Here are links to the videos:

Attorney General Greg Abbott: Part I; Part II

Sen. Wendy Davis: Part I; Part II

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte: Part I; Part II

We encourage voters to learn where all of the candidates stand on critical education issues and to support pro-public education candidates this election year. Visit our 2014 Races page to search for profiles of all legislative and State Board of Education candidates. On our Take Action: Resources page, you can also view complete profiles of the two nominees for lt. governor; gubernatorial candidate profiles will be added soon.

Learn more about Patrick and Van de Putte

Election Day is now only 100 days away. Many important races will be decided on Nov. 4, including high-profile statewide contests for Texas governor and lieutenant governor. Be an informed voter by learning about the candidates’ viewpoints on public education. Teach the Vote makes it easy by providing you with background information, voting records, candidates’ survey responses and additional research compiled by ATPE staff.

Visit our Take Action: Resources page to view new profiles of the Republican and Democratic nominees for lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick and Leticia Van de Putte. Profiles of the gubernatorial nominees will be provided soon. Find profiles of all candidates for the Texas Legislature and State Board of Education on our 2014 Races search page.

2014 Primary runoffs conclude

After yesterday’s runoff elections, we now have a much better idea of what the makeup of the 2015 legislature is going to be. Approximately 90% of Texas’ political offices are determined in the primary election, meaning there are very few races that are competitive in the general election in November. While there were certainly some victories to celebrate in the runoff, public education is likely to face an uphill battle in the next meeting of the Texas Legislature in January.

In statewide runoff races, Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) defeated incumbent Republican Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. Patrick will face Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) in the general election. Senator Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) defeated State Representative Dan Branch in the Attorney General runoff and will face Sam Houston (D-Houston).

Below is a full recap of the legislative and State Board of Education (SBOE) election contests decided Tuesday:

Dallas area:

                Democratic Primary

● SBOE District 13: Erika Beltran defeated Andrea Hilburn

●House District 105: Susan Motley defeated Terry Meza

                Republican Primary

●Senate District 2: Bob Hall defeated incumbent Sen. Bob Deuell

●House District 66: Matt Shaheen defeated Glenn Callison

●House District 102: Linda Koop defeated incumbent Rep. Stefani Carter

●House District 108: Morgan Meyer defeated Chart Westcott

Ft. Worth area:

                Republican Primary

●SBOE District 11: Incumbent Patricia “Pat” Hardy defeated Eric Mahroum

●Senate District 10: Konni Burton defeated Mark Shelton

●House District 58: DeWayne Burns defeated Philip Eby

Waxahachie:

                Republican Primary

●House District 10: John Wray defeated T.J. Fabby

Houston area:

                Republican Primary

House District 129: Dennis Paul defeated Sheryl Berg

●House District 132: Mike Schofield defeated Ann Hodge

Conroe/The Woodlands (and parts of Chambers, Harris, and Jefferson Counties):

                Republican Primary

●House District 16: Will Metcalf defeated Ted Seago

South Central Texas:

                Republican Primary

House District 53: Andrew Murr defeated Rob Henneke

El Paso:

                Democratic Primary

●House District 76: Cesar Blanco defeated Norma Chavez

 

For more information on candidates and their views on public education visit Texas Parent PAC and the 2014 Races section of TeachtheVote.org.