First elected to the SBOE in 2016. Current term expires in January 2021.
In Sept. 2019, Ellis was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to serve as Chair of the SBOE.
Ellis defeated Mary Lou Bruner in a Republican primary runoff election on May 24, 2016, by a vote margin of 59.2% to 40.8%.
Ellis was endorsed in the 2016 Republican primary election by Reps. Jimmie Don Aycock (R) and Trent Ashby (R), former Texas Education Commissioner Mike Moses, Hudson ISD Superintendent Mary Ann Whiteker, and Lufkin ISD Superintendent LaTonya Goffney. As reported by The Texas Tribune, Ellis also received the endorsement of more than 70 school superintendents in the area.
Ellis was endorsed in the 2016 Republican primary and 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.
Endorsed in the 2016 Republican primary runoff election by the Dallas Morning News.
Endorsed by the Dallas Morning News editorial board in the 2016 race for SBOE District 9.
The 2020 ATPE Candidate Survey will be available soon. Below are the candidate's responses to the 2016 ATPE Candidate Survey:
1. What role should educators and educator groups play in policy decisions made by the State Board of Education (SBOE)?
Educators should be very involved in the policy decisions of the SBOE, just as they must be by statute with the TEKS review committees which must include educators, parents, business and industry leaders and employers. The purpose of this is to aid the SBOE by providing input from those that are involved daily with our children.
2. Do you believe the number of curriculum standards written into the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) is generally too high, too low, or just about right?
It is my opinion that the TEKS are a mile wide and an inch deep. Teachers have so much to cover each year that their students are not able to master any of the concepts. The TEKS need to be streamlined to a depth that will allow a majority of students to master the concepts as opposed to being just introduced to the concepts.
3. Would you recommend any changes to the process for adopting and revising the TEKS curriculum standards?
Not necessary changes, but the process must be very thoughtful and intentional. For example, currently there are some who feel the new math STAAR tests are too focused on process and not enough with just getting the right answer. When the SBOE questioned the test writers about this they pointed back to the most recent math TEKS approved in 2012 which are heavily focused on process. So an in depth, deliberate and thought out process must be undertaken every time the standards are opened up for review. Also, just to be clear, Texans know best how to educate Texas children. The Texas educators that draft the TEKS are better suited to develop our curriculum standard than anyone from the federal government.
4. Do you believe charter schools in Texas have been largely successful? Should their presence be expanded? Why or why not?
The data will show that there are charters that have been very successful, charters that have not performed adequately and those in between. Exactly the same as the results of public schools. The original intent of charters was for a group of educators to identify a struggling subpopulation of students and develop innovative teaching techniques and then determine if those strategies were successful or not. So if charters are providing this type of quality education within their financial means, then they should be allowed to continue. If this is not the case, let's focus our time and resources on improving our traditional public schools.
5. What role, if any, should the SBOE play in approving textbooks and instructional materials?
The role of approving textbooks and instructional materials is one of the five primary responsibilities of the SBOE. The SBOE should work with the commissioner in making recommendations to the state review panels. The commissions is charged with ensuring that at least 50% of the TEKS and 100% of the English Language Proficiency Standards are covered and then providing a list of what texts he recommends to be adopted. This is where the boards role is critical in listening the expert testimony of any factual error as well as any public testimony and making a final decision of which instructional materials are approved.
6. Do you believe our state's curriculum requirements allow students to receive a well-rounded education throughout all grade levels? Would you recommend any changes?
Yes, I do believe Texas students can achieve a well-rounded education but we should always continually work towards improvement. As I mentioned previously, the changes needed include streamlining the TEKS. Additionally, we need to continue to decrease the emphasis on high stakes standardized testing that requires schools to focus only or core subjects. A deemphasize of high stakes testing will allow more time for music, art and theatre which is vitally important in providing a student a well-rounded education.
7. Do you believe the SBOE should continue to have the authority to review and potentially veto any rule actions taken by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC)?
Yes, an example of this was just recently when the SBEC proposed a rule that would allow a superintendent to be hired with no public educational experience. The SBOE was able to reject this proposed rule and that power should be retained.
8. If elected, what do you believe your primary role and responsibility as a state board member should be?
The primary role and responsibility of an SBOE member is clear: 1. Setting curriculum standards 2. Reviewing and adopting instructional materials 3. Establishing graduation requirements and 4. Overseeing the Texas Permanent School Fund. The question become by what means does one accomplish this. In my time as a Lufkin ISD board member, I have seen the challenges our teachers, educators and administrators face. I take a thoughtful, leavel headed and studied approach to each problem and I think this will allow me to become a board members that makes a positive difference.
Ellis submitted the following comments in response to the 2016 ATPE Candidate Survey:
My time on the Lufkin ISD school board has allowed me to see firsthand the outstanding job that our teachers do each and every day. I also know that is not unique to Lufkin, as teachers from every corner of this state have devoted their life's work for the betterment of the children of Texas. That is why it really bothers me when I hear of people say we have failing schools. We don't have failing schools, we have struggling communities. When the children of these struggling communities show up to the classrooms with the deck stacked against them, let's not fault the teachers when these students don't perform to our standards. I said all that to say I will always support our educators. I look forward to helping make Texas schools a place where my future grand children will have an even better education than my children did.
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