Sanchez earned 27% of the vote in the March primary and will compete in a runoff election on July 14, 2020.
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RESPONSES TO THE 2020 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:
1. If elected, what will be your top priorities for public education?
Provide permanent funding for increased teacher and school employee wages. Increase the state's contribution to TRS health insurance and pensions. Reduce classroom sizes. Overhaul standardized testing so that it doesn't punish schools or school districts. Increase funding for special education programs.
2. What are your recommendations for funding public education, including securing the necessary revenue to sustain the improvements made by House Bill 3 in 2019? Do you believe additional funding is needed?
I definitely believe that additional, permanent funding is needed so that we can sustain pay raises for teachers and give school districts more money to meet students' needs. Some options are legalizing recreational marijuana and taxing it, closing corporate property tax loopholes, and creating an income tax on the highest earners in Texas.
3. How would you address the challenge of rising healthcare costs facing Texas educators and ensure that active and retired educators have access to affordable healthcare?
The health insurance provided under TRS is not adequate, and has degraded a lot in the last ten years, because teachers must pay too much out of pocket. I am in favor of a universal health care program, such as the Healthy Texas Act. The Healthy Texas Act would provide healthcare for all teachers and significantly reduce the costs. At the very least, Texas should increase its contribution to teachers' health insurance program, so that the out-of-pocket costs will decrease.
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 believe that a defined benefit plan like TRS is better than a defined contribution plan like a 401(k). Teachers need to have a firm pension in place when they retire. A 401(k) opens teachers up to more risk, which is not good for their financial future.
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.?
I do not think that test scores should be used for school accountability purposes or for evaluating teachers. Many teachers are pressured to teach to the test in Texas, with negative outcomes for students. I do think that standardized tests should exist in some limited form so that we can monitor the progress of students, but we should not penalize teachers or schools because of test results.
6. To what extent should student performance determine teacher pay?
I do not think that student performance should determine teacher pay. It is a very messy and unfair way of compensating teachers. These types of pay incentive programs can discourage teachers from taking positions in classrooms with students who are underserved or who have diverse needs.
7. 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, I do not support any kind of voucher for students to attend non-public schools. I think that public money should stay in the public school systems.
8. 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 definitely support the right of educators and other public employees to have membership dues deducted from their paychecks. Any attempts to curb this right are driven by union-busting lobbyists and lawmakers, and we must oppose those attempts.
9. What role, if any, should charter schools have in the public education system, and do you feel the number of charter schools operating in Texas should be reduced or expanded?
I do not support for-profit charter schools. Charter schools divert resources from the public schools, don't require the same certifications for teachers, and often require teachers to put in more hours of work than at public schools. Charter schools, where they exist, should fall under the same regulations as public schools. Our number one focus should be on properly funding public schools.
10. Recent legislation has made it possible for school districts to exempt themselves from many state laws (e.g., class-size limits, requirements for hiring certified teachers, minimum salary schedules, school calendar restrictions, etc.) by partnering with outside entities, allowing campuses to be managed by a charter school operator, or becoming part of a District of Innovation, for example. Do you agree with this type of deregulation of public schools, and how should such non-traditional schools be governed?
I am reluctant to loosen regulations on school districts. I think these regulations mentioned above are in place for a reason, and that loosening them may result in worse outcomes for students.
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A NONPARTISAN VOTER EDUCATION PROJECT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF TEXAS PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS