Former Harris County Chief Human Trafficking Prosecutor; adjunct professor of law at South Texas College of Law; Attorney in private practice representing those who cannot afford a lawyer
P. O. Box 56386, Houston, TX, 77256
Ran unsuccessfully for the same House seat in 2012.
Endorsed by the Houston Chronicle editorial board in the 2020 Democratic primary election.
Candidate Survey Responses
THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY WILL BE AVAILABLE SOON.
RESPONSES TO THE 2020 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:
1. If elected, what will be your top priorities for public education?
I'm running to make education a priority in Texas again. Without new leadership in Austin that makes education a top priority, the next generation of Texans is likely to be less educated, less employable and less prosperous than we are. My first priority will be finding the sustainable funding lacking in HB 3. I will also work to reduce the reliance on standardized testing, remove the barriers to recruiting and retaining qualified teachers, and – especially given what we are going through in Houston – repeal state takeover laws and revamp Robin Hood.
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?
We have shortchanged the children of Texas for too long. House Bill 3 was a welcome development, but hardly a substitute for the decades-long neglect of public education in Texas. We must increase the state's share of spending on public education. HB 3 relied on one-time revenue sources. We must find new and sustainable revenue streams, starting with closing the "equal and uniform" section of Texas tax law that enables owners of large commercial and industrial properties to have their assessments reduced below fair market value.
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?
I will fight for Medicaid expansion and for expanding healthcare coverage for all Texans, including educators. As a cancer survivor, access to quality healthcare saved my life. I also support increasing the state contributions toward health insurance for active and retired educators.
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 support keeping TRS as a defined benefit plan. It provides the best and most secure retirement for our teachers.
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 testing should never be the primary determinant on whether a student can advance or graduate. I support input from IGC committees, teachers, staff and parents.
6. To what extent should student performance determine teacher pay?
I am opposed to "merit pay" based on measures such as standardized test grades. These are not a valid measure for teacher performance any more than student performance. The state should help fund across-the-board pay raises for Texas teachers until they reach the national average.
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?
In no circumstances should public funds be spent on private or charter schools. We are in no position whatsoever to drain funds from public education, period.
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 absolutely support voluntary payroll deductions. The state has no right to tell educators how to spend their hard-earned money.
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?
There can be a limited role for charter schools in Texas, but there is no reason they should not be held to the same standards of accountability, transparency and performance.
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?
Districts of innovation need to be reined in. If the state would adequately fund public education, as I believe is constitutionally required, there would be no need for the abuse of this concept to get around regulations that are necessary to protect students and teachers.
Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey
No additional comments