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. He also received the same group's endorsement in the 2018 primary and primary runoff election.
Endorsed in the 2018 Republican primary runoff election by the editorial board of the San Antonio Express-News.
No bills for this candidate.
1. If elected, what will your top priorities for public education be?
First, to re-assess the approach to public school finance to better achieve an efficient and equitable education, with particular consideration of local and individual needs and development for realistic success in chosen fields and for life. Second, to strengthen the teacher compensation, benefits and retirement offerings to better competitively attract and retain excellent teachers. And third, to work closely with business, industry and trade allies and supporters to meet the challenges facing education in Texas.
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?
The state has invested up to 50% and even 70% of the cost of education, but now it's down to 38%. This has to change. The state has been taking advantage of the increased rise in property valuations, generating more tax revenue at the local level, thus forcing local taxpayers to pick up the slack. Local school districts simply don't pass revenue neutral tax rates because the state's share is in decline. But now state leaders blame local government for high taxes. It's time for the state to own up to its role in high local taxes and take the burden off local taxpayers.
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?
We can only attract and retain the best educators if we offer excellent health benefits to our active and retired teachers. It's all part of providing educators with the support and resources they need to educate our children successfully.
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 see this as a cost-benefit assessment. Security and cost efficiency should be of utmost concern for the long-term interest of our valued public school employees. In my view, this is best accomplished through the traditional defined-benefit 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.?
While testing can be a useful tool for initial diagnostic purposes, it does not reflect the full measure of both student progress and teacher performance over the course of an entire year of learning. All the students in any given classroom will not all perform the same. I think measuring the progress a student makes during the course of the school year is a more accurate sign of the quality of education he or she is receiving.
6. Would you support a state-funded across-the-board pay raise for all Texas classroom teachers?
Yes, provided that the state pays for the raises, and does not create an unfunded mandate that is passed on to local taxpayers.
7. To what extent should student performance determine teacher pay?
A student's development is related to other factors beyond the classroom, such as home life, the student's ability, and the effort displayed. These factors outside the classroom are beyond the teacher's control, so basing teacher pay solely on student performance is unfair.
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?
I will oppose any measure which would undermine public education. Private-school vouchers and tuition tax credits as currently proposed would do just that, effectively further reducing the current underfunding of public education.
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?
As long as taxpayer dollars are not being allocated for such costs, I believe educators should have the right to voluntarily use payroll deductions to pay membership dues to professional associations.
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?
I believe schools should have a great deal of local control on these matters. If high accountability ratings serve as an incentive to gain this greater control, that's a benefit for all concerned.
No additional comments
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