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Erin Baker Shank
Texas House District 56







P.O. Box 32672, Waco, TX, 76703

Additional Information

Candidate Survey Responses


1. If elected, what will be your top priorities for public education?

From listening to our community, I believe we are having the wrong conversation regarding public education. I believe that keeping our kids in school is vital during this pandemic. A raft of reports by school personnel have sounded an alarm on online classes, showing how that the last two years of disruptive learning have led to stunted academic, social, and emotional development, heightened anxiety and depression, and even increased suicide rates, especially for young girls. I want to make addressing the learning gap a priority. Lets reimagine how schools work and make it finally work for parents too. Another priority is to make schools and parents fully compatible with working parents schedules. I want to work on filling the gaps in learning for our children in District 56. COVID-19 all but resurrected our great reality, which is that our country has the least affordable childcare in a developed country. So yes, I support re-opening schools-and keep them open. Expanding COVID testing was a good start. But sending kids back to schools is the floor, not the ceiling. Today, we have the opportunity to radically rethink the ways in which school and work can work together, to better serve our educators, our parents, and our kids. We must be aggressive in our recruitment for qualified teachers.

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 do not believe additional funding is needed.

3. How would you address the challenge of rising health care costs facing Texas educators and ensure that active and retired educators have access to affordable health care?

Health premiums have exploded in the past 20 years and believe that districts should contribute to teacher premiums that is in keeping with with inflation.

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 converting TRS to a defined contribution plan that is more like a 401 (k) plan.

5. What do you feel is the proper role of standardized testing in the Texas public education system? For instance, should student test scores be used for teacher pay, school accountability ratings, evaluating teachers, measuring student progress, etc.?

Testing has it's place in order for evaluation of teachers and students. I do not support the A-F system and find it to be a draconian system that destroys public education. Texas deserves an adequate tracking system that allows an opportunity to check-in with classroom instruction and provide intervention if needed.

6. 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 am opposed to school choice/voucher system.

7. 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?


8. 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 understand that districts' total revenues per pupil increase as the percentage of local students who enrolled in charter schools rose in our area but am interested to study trends outside of District 56.

9. How much freedom should school districts have to make decisions during disease outbreaks, such as requiring face coverings and immunizations or transitioning to remote instruction?

I believe in local control.

10. What do you believe is the proper role of virtual education within the public education system? Do you believe full-time virtual education should be expanded, and if so, under what circumstances?

We agree that virtual education has been a poor substitute for in-person public education system. I do not believe full-time virtual education should be expanded. The proper role of virtual education should be utilized in short amounts of time to help those suffering illness, injury, or in need of enrichment education.

11. What do you feel should be the state’s role (versus the role of school districts or individual educators) in decisions about public school curriculum and instructional materials?

I believe in local control.

12. The COVID-19 pandemic and additional instructional support needed to remediate students’ learning losses have placed additional strain on public schools’ staffing needs. How would you work to ensure classrooms are appropriately staffed, teachers’ workloads are manageable, and planning time is not sacrificed amid these challenges?

I believe we must be more aggressive in our approach in teacher recruitment. As it stands, many of our rural populations are not able to performing due to the lack of adequate para-profession support in this pandemic. These rural communities are left with school closures. Larger communities in District 56 have remained afloat only with the help of dedicated support staff who are willing to deal with the schools' staffing needs. Having a robust support staff allows our educators time to dedicate to planning, implementation during these challenging times.

I do not support one single educator performing the job of both in-person and virtual instruction to their student population.

Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey

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