First elected to the Texas House in 2018.
In the 2018 election, Harris was recommended favorably by Texans for Public Education, a grassroots educators' group that has researched and rated candidates in the 2018 election based on their stances toward public schools.
Endorsed in the 2018 general election by Texas Parent PAC, a pro-public education organization that advocates for adequate and equitable funding of public schools, local control, teacher quality, and the prevention of private school vouchers. Cody also received the group's endorsement in the 2018 primary runoff election.
Voted for a major school finance and reform bill providing $6.5 billion in increased funding for public education and $5 billion for property tax relief.
House Bill 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 3, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #159. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)
Voted for an ATPE-supported educator retirement bill making the TRS pension fund sound by increasing contribution rates and authorizing a one-time 13th check for retirees.
Senate Bill 12 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 25, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #661. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)
Voted for an ATPE-supported school safety bill offering funding to implement school safety improvements and provide mental health resources.
Senate Bill 11 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 22, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #1610. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)
Voted for a floor amendment to Senate Bill 11 requiring the state to identify regional resources that schools can use to address students' mental health needs. The amendment was based on Rep. Allison's HB 4414, a bill supported by ATPE.
House Floor Amendment #8 by Rep. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio) to Senate Bill 11 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. During the House floor debate on this school safety bill, Rep. Allison offered Floor Amendment #8 to improve mental health resources in schools. The amendment passed on May 21, 2019. (Record vote #1579. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) Procedural note: This amendment was later reconsidered and amended before being adopted by the House again. (Record vote #1600. View an official record of that subsequent vote in the House journal.)
Voted for a bill that would have weakened the 22:1 cap on elementary school class sizes. ATPE opposed the bill.
House Bill 1133 by Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 9, 2019, the House voted to defeat the bill on second reading. (Record vote #1244. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)
Voted against an ATPE-supported bill that would have funded and strengthened mentoring programs for teachers.
House Bill 102 by Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 9, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #197. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) HB 102 did not get heard by the Senate, but its language was incorporated into HB 3 that did pass and become law.
Voted against a bill to require certain school districts to assign properly certified teachers to students in elementary grades and prevent students from being taught by first-year teachers in consecutive years. HB 1276 would have applied to school districts with at least 5,000 students, unless the district was exempted under the District of Innovation (DOI) law or received a hardship waiver from the commissioner of education. The bill was designed to prevent students from being assigned for two consecutive school years to teachers with less than one year of experience or teachers not certified in the subject being taught as part of the foundation curriculum. Exceptions were provided for new transfer students and students whose parent or guardian consents to the placement. ATPE supported the bill.
House Bill 1276 by Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 25, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #746. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) The bill ultimately died after it did not get heard in the Senate.
Voted for a floor amendment to House Bill 3 to increase the transparency and efficiency of charter schools by requiring them to undergo an audit of their fiscal management prior to expanding or opening new campuses and to share the audit results on their website. ATPE supported the amendment.
House Floor Amendment #15 by Rep. Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd) to House Bill 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. During the House floor debate on the school finance bill, Rep. Bailes offered Floor Amendment #15 on charter school transparency and efficiency. The amendment passed on April 3, 2019. (Record vote #153. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) The Senate later stripped the amendment out of the bill.
Voted for a bill that would prohibit school districts and other local governmental entities from funding legislative advocacy efforts or paying membership dues to organizations that engage in legislative advocacy.
Senate Bill 29 by Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 20, 2019, the House voted to defeat the bill on third reading. (Record vote #1519. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)
The 2020 ATPE Candidate Survey will be available soon. Below are the candidate's responses to the 2018 ATPE Candidate Survey:
1. If elected, what will your top priorities for public education be?
My top priorities for public education will be to bring an end to the unfunded mandates sent from Austin to our local ISD's; reforming the education structure which now requires our educators to teach to a test; and bringing more local control back to our schools.
2. Is there a need to increase state funding to meet the needs of our student population? If so, how would you recommend securing more revenue for public education?
Yes, the State's share of school funding has drastically decreased in recent years, putting the majority of the funding burden on local property taxpayers. It starts by making sure the money allocated is being spent wisely and actually on education in the classroom.
3. Healthcare costs for educators have increased dramatically and outpaced the state's contributions, with many current and retired educators now paying more out of pocket than their counterparts in other states or in other professions. As a legislator, how would you address this crisis to ensure that active and retired educators have access to affordable healthcare?
Healthcare costs have skyrocketed for everyone across the board. The most effective way to bring down the cost of healthcare is for the State of Texas to put increased pressure on the federal government to repeal the ACA/Obamacare and open up the insurance markets across state lines.
4. 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 plan that is more like a 401(k) plan, in which future benefits are not guaranteed?
I view the TRS as a promise that we as a state have made to our educators, and we must uphold that promise. The average return on investment that the TRS system currently receives is good, which is why I don't support moving to a 401K style plan.
5. What do you feel is the proper role of standardized testing in Texas's public education system? For instance, should student test scores be used for school accountability purposes, for evaluating teachers, for measuring student progress, etc.?
Standardized tests are a good tool to use for determining student progress, but our reliance on them has gone too far. We need to get back to letting teachers do what they do best instead of teaching to a test all year long.
6. Would you support a state-funded across-the-board pay raise for all Texas classroom teachers?
7. To what extent should student performance determine teacher pay?
I believe a teacher's pay should be determined based on merit. Student performance is part of this, but this determination should be made at the local level.
8. Would you vote to create any type of voucher, tax credit, scholarship, education savings account, or other program aimed at paying for students, including any subpopulation of students, to attend non-public K-12 schools, such as private or home schools?
No, a state-wide voucher program will only hurt local rural property taxpayers and public schools.
9. State law allows educators and other public employees to voluntarily choose to join professional associations like ATPE and have membership dues deducted from their paychecks at no cost to taxpayers. Do you support or oppose letting all public employees use payroll deduction for their membership dues?
Voluntary automatic payroll deduction is a practice that has been going on in Texas since 1991. As long as it is a strictly voluntary option, I do not see a need to repeal it.
10. Current law allows school districts with accountability ratings of "C" or better to become Districts of Innovation (DOIs) and exempt themselves from many state statutes, such as elementary school class-size limits, requirements for hiring certified teachers, and more. Would you recommend any changes to the criteria for becoming a DOI? Would you place any limitations on the state laws that can be waived by DOIs?
While I support DOI's as they put decision making back at the local level, I would not support relaxing the requirements any further than they are.
No additional comments
Some events are submitted by third-party entities. ATPE does not endorse candidates. Publication of an event does not constitute endorsement of a candidate or event.
A NONPARTISAN VOTER EDUCATION PROJECT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF TEXAS PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS