user avatar
Gina Hinojosa
Texas House District 49
Status

incumbent

Party

Democrat

Occupation

Attorney

Address

P.O. Box 300095, Austin, TX, 78703

Additional Information

First elected to the Texas House in 2016. Current term expires Jan. 2023.

Endorsed in the 2022 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. She also received the same group's endorsement in the 2018 and 2016 elections. 

Endorsed by the editorial board of the Austin American-Statesman in the 2020 general election.

In the 2018 election, she was recommended favorably by Texans for Public Education, a grassroots educators' group that researched and rated candidates in the 2018 election based on their stances toward public schools.Endorsed in the 2016 Democratic primary election by the Austin American-Statesman editorial board.

Previously served on the Austin ISD board of trustees.

 


Related Blog Posts

  • House Vote #1 - 2021: VOUCHERS

    Voted for a budget amendment to prohibit state funds from being spent on private school vouchers. ATPE supported the amendment.

    House Floor Amendment #84 by Rep. Abel Herrero (D-Robstown) to Senate Bill 1 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. The House passed the ATPE-supported amendment during its debate on the budget bill, April 22, 2021. (Record vote #410. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)

  • House Vote #2 - 2021: SPECIAL EDUCATION

    Voted against a bill creating the "Supplemental Special Education Services" grant, which allows parents of eligible students in special education to apply for a grant of up to $1,500 for the purchase of supplemental educational services and materials.

    Senate Bill 1716 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), sponsored in the House by Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. The bill as passed by the Senate would have created a special education voucher program, which ATPE opposed, but the House removed the voucher language. On May 26, 2021, the House voted to pass its version of the bill on third reading, sending SB 1716 to the governor without objection from ATPE. (Record vote #1516. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)

  • House Vote #3 - 2021: COMPENSATION

    Voted for an amendment that would have ensured teachers could keep pay raises they had received as a result of 2019 school finance legislation. ATPE supported the amendment.

    House Floor Amendment #14 by Rep. Chris Turner (D-Arlington) to House Bill 1525 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingsville), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 21, 2021, the House passed the ATPE-supported amendment during its floor debate on a school finance clean-up bill. (Record vote #387. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)

  • House Vote #4 - 2021: CIVICS AND CURRICULUM

    Voted against a bill that mandated changes to social studies curriculum standards, sought to ban the teaching of concepts that have been associated with "critical race theory," limited students' access to course credit for activities related to legislation, and restricted educators' discussions of controversial topics and current events in the classroom. ATPE opposed the bill.

    House Bill 3979 by Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 11, 2021, the House voted to pass the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading. (Record vote #982. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) Read more about the bill here.

  • House Vote #5 - 2021: CIVICS AND CURRICULUM

    Voted against a bill passed during the second special session that replaced HB 3979 passed during the regular session. The bill requires the State Board of Education to change social studies curriculum standards and seeks to ban the teaching of concepts that have been associated with "critical race theory." SB 3 mandates a civics training academy for certain teachers and requires that teachers address controversial topics in an objective manner free from political bias. ATPE opposed the bill overall but supported House floor amendments that made the bill better than its predecessor, HB 3979.

    Senate Bill 3 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), sponsored in the House by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 87th Legislature, Second Called Session. On Sept. 2, 2021, the House amended and then voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #150. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal). Read more about SB 3 here.

  • House Vote #6 - 2021: HOME-SCHOOL UIL

    Voted once for and once against a bill that allows home-schooled students to participate in University Interscholastic League (UIL) activities on behalf of and at the expense of a school district without meeting the same academic requirements under "no pass, no play" rules that apply to public school students. Hinojosa voted against HB 547 on third reading. Later, she switched her position to vote for a motion to concur with Senate amendments to the bill. The motion to concur passed and sent HB 547 to the governor. ATPE opposed the bill.

    House Bill 547 by Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 13, 2021, the House voted to approve the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading. (Record vote #1028. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) The Senate later amended HB 547, removing House provisions that would have given coaches additional authority to verify home-schooled students' academic eligibility and allowed students served by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department to participate in UIL. On May 28, 2021, the House voted to concur with the Senate amendments to the bill, thereby sending a final version of HB 547 to the governor. (Record vote #1556. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) Read more about the bill here.

  • House Vote #7 - 2021: CHARTER SCHOOLS

    Voted against a bill that expands property tax exemptions for charter schools and those who lease property to a charter school. ATPE opposed the bill.

    House Bill 3610 by Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 8, 2021, the House voted to approve the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading. (Record vote #913. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) Read more about the bill here.

  • House Vote #8 - 2021: RETIREMENT

    Voted for a bill authorizing a one-time supplemental payment or "13th check" of up to $2,400 to TRS retirees. ATPE supported the bill.

    Senate Bill 7 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), sponsored in the House by Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), 87th Legislature, Second Called Session. On Aug. 30, 2021, the House voted to approve the ATPE-supported bill on third reading. (Record vote #98. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)

  • House Vote #9 - 2021: VIRTUAL SCHOOLS

    Voted against a bill that would have expanded full-time virtual school programs statewide. ATPE opposed the bill.

    House Bill 1468 by Rep. Keith Bell (R-Forney), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 28, 2021, the House voted to approve the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading. (Record vote #497. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) The Senate passed an amended version of HB 1468, and the bill was eventually sent to a conference committee to generate a compromise version. HB 1468 ultimately died when the House failed to vote on the conference committee report before the regular session ended.

  • House Vote #10 - 2021: VIRTUAL SCHOOLS

    Voted against a bill that expands funding and authorization for full-time virtual school programs statewide. ATPE opposed the bill.

    Senate Bill 15 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), sponsored in the House by Rep. Keith Bell (R-Forney), 87th Legislature, Second Called Session. Based on the ATPE-opposed HB 1468 that failed to pass in the regular session, SB 15 expands state funding options for students in full-time virtual schools. On Aug. 30, 2021, the House voted to pass the bill on third reading. (Record vote #96. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)

  • House Vote #11 - 2021: ACCOUNTABILITY

    Voted for a bill that pauses accountability ratings for the 2021-22 school year, halts progressive sanctions for D- and F-rated schools once they earn a C rating, and clarifies due process protections for districts facing sanctions.

    Voted for/Voted against/Was "present not voting" on/Was absent for the vote on a bill that pauses accountability ratings for the 2021-22 school year, halts progressive sanctions for D- and F-rated schools once they earn a C rating, and clarifies due process protections for districts facing sanctions.

  • House Vote #12 - 2021: TESTING/ACCELERATED INSTRUCTION

    Voted for a bill that eliminated the STAAR passage requirement for grade promotion but requires accelerated instruction for students who failed a STAAR test.

    House Bill 4545 by Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 28, 2021, the House voted to concur with Senate amendments to the bill, which sent a final version of HB 4545 to the governor. (Record vote #1689. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal). Read more about the bill here.

  • House Vote #13 - 2021: ACCELERATED INSTRUCTION

    Voted for a bill that would have eased implementation of HB 4545, passed during the regular session, by limiting the subjects in which tutoring is required for students who failed a STAAR test and offering temporary relief from tutoring group size limits.

    House Bill 233 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 87th Legislature, Second Called Session. On Sept. 2, 2021, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #153. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal). The bill ultimately died when the Senate declined to hear it before the end of the session. Read more about the bill here.

  • (Historical) House Vote #1 - 2019: EDUCATION FUNDING & REFORM

    Voted for a major school finance and reform bill providing $6.5 billion in increased funding for public education and $5 billion for property tax relief.

    House Bill 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 3, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #159. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #2 - 2019: RETIREMENT

    Voted for an ATPE-supported educator retirement bill making the TRS pension fund sound by increasing contribution rates and authorizing a one-time 13th check for retirees.

    Senate Bill 12 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 25, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #661. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #3 - 2019: SCHOOL SAFETY

    Voted for an ATPE-supported school safety bill offering funding to implement school safety improvements and provide mental health resources.

    Senate Bill 11 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 22, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #1610. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #4 - 2019: SCHOOL SAFETY

    Voted for a floor amendment to Senate Bill 11 requiring the state to identify regional resources that schools can use to address students' mental health needs. The amendment was based on Rep. Allison's HB 4414, a bill supported by ATPE.

    House Floor Amendment #8 by Rep. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio) to Senate Bill 11 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. During the House floor debate on this school safety bill, Rep. Allison offered Floor Amendment #8 to improve mental health resources in schools. The amendment passed on May 21, 2019. (Record vote #1579. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) Procedural note: This amendment was later reconsidered and amended before being adopted by the House again. (Record vote #1600. View an official record of that subsequent vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #5 - 2019: CLASS SIZES

    Voted against a bill that would have weakened the 22:1 cap on elementary school class sizes. ATPE opposed the bill.

    House Bill 1133 by Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 9, 2019, the House voted to defeat the bill on second reading. (Record vote #1244. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #6 - 2019: EDUCATOR QUALITY

    Voted for an ATPE-supported bill that would have funded and strengthened mentoring programs for teachers.

    House Bill 102 by Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 9, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #197. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) HB 102 did not get heard by the Senate, but its language was incorporated into HB 3 that did pass and become law.

  • (Historical) House Vote #7 - 2019: EDUCATOR QUALITY

    Voted for a bill to require certain school districts to assign properly certified teachers to students in elementary grades and prevent students from being taught by first-year teachers in consecutive years. HB 1276 would have applied to school districts with at least 5,000 students, unless the district was exempted under the District of Innovation (DOI) law or received a hardship waiver from the commissioner of education. The bill was designed to prevent students from being assigned for two consecutive school years to teachers with less than one year of experience or teachers not certified in the subject being taught as part of the foundation curriculum. Exceptions were provided for new transfer students and students whose parent or guardian consents to the placement. ATPE supported the bill.

    House Bill 1276 by Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 25, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #746. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) The bill ultimately died after it did not get heard in the Senate.

  • (Historical) House Vote #8 - 2019: CHARTER SCHOOLS

    Voted for a floor amendment to House Bill 3 to increase the transparency and efficiency of charter schools by requiring them to undergo an audit of their fiscal management prior to expanding or opening new campuses and to share the audit results on their website. ATPE supported the amendment.

    House Floor Amendment #15 by Rep. Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd) to House Bill 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. During the House floor debate on the school finance bill, Rep. Bailes offered Floor Amendment #15 on charter school transparency and efficiency. The amendment passed on April 3, 2019. (Record vote #153. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) The Senate later stripped the amendment out of the bill.

  • (Historical) House Vote #9 - 2019: POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT

    Voted against a bill that would prohibit school districts and other local governmental entities from funding legislative advocacy efforts or paying membership dues to organizations that engage in legislative advocacy.

    Senate Bill 29 by Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 20, 2019, the House voted to defeat the bill on third reading. (Record vote #1519. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #1 - 2017: EDUCATION FUNDING

    Voted for the final version of the state's budget bill.

    Senate Bill 1 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. A conference committee was appointed to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of this primary budget bill. On a motion by Rep. John Zerwas (R-Fulshear), the House voted to adopt the conference committee report and approve the bill for final passage on May 27, 2017. (Record vote #1945. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #2 - 2017: EDUCATION FUNDING

    Supported a school finance bill that offered $1.5 billion in additional public school funding. Voted for HB 21, which would have increased the basic and bilingual allotments, added a new allotment for students with dyslexia, and funded hardship grants for certain districts losing money due to the expiration of ASATR (Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction). ATPE supported this bill.

    House Bill 21 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. The House voted to approve the bill on third reading on April 20, 2017. (Record vote #328. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) This bill did not ultimately pass during the regular session.

  • (Historical) House Vote #3 - 2017: EDUCATION FUNDING

    Supported additional education funding. Voted for a bill to revise the state's school finance system, add $1.8 billion in new funding for public education, and use the state's rainy day fund to shore up the education budget. ATPE supported the bill.

    House Bill 21 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 85th Legislature, Special Session. The House voted to approve its version of a school finance bill on third reading on Aug. 7, 2017. (Record vote #72. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) The Legislature ultimately passed a watered-down Senate version of the bill.

  • (Historical) House Vote #4 - 2017: STUDENT TESTING

    Supported relief from high-stakes testing. Voted for an ATPE-supported bill to extend the Individual Graduation Committees (IGC) law to help qualified high school students graduate in spite of failing a required STAAR test.

    Senate Bill 463 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. The House voted to approve the bill on third reading and final passage on May 23, 2017. (Record vote #1606. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #5 - 2017: RETIREMENT BENEFITS

    Supported short-term funding for retired educators' healthcare. Voted for a bill that restructured TRS-Care, the health insurance program for retired teachers. The bill prevented the TRS-Care program from running out of money in 2017 and leaving retired educators without health coverage. ATPE supported the bill.

    House Bill 3976 by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. The House voted in favor of a motion to concur with Senate amendments, which enabled final passage of the bill, on May 24, 2017. (Record Vote #1770. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #6 - 2017: PAYROLL DEDUCTION

    Voted against a payroll deduction-related amendment that ATPE opposed. The amendment, which failed to pass, called for a state school finance commission to study whether educators should continue to have access to payroll deduction for their voluntary association dues.

    Floor amendment #20 by Rep. Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) to Senate Bill 16 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 85th Legislature, Special Session. The House voted against the amendment on Aug. 14, 2017. The amendment failed to pass. (Record vote #167. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #7 - 2017: PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS

    Opposed vouchers. Voted for an amendment that would prevent the state budget bill from being used to fund or support any form of private school voucher. ATPE supported this amendment.

    Floor amendment #8 by Rep. Abel Herrero (D-Corpus Christi) to Senate Bill 1 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. The House adopted the amendment on April 6, 2017. (Record vote #165. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #8 - 2017: PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS

    Opposed vouchers. Voted for a budget amendment to clarify that no public funds should be used to pay for or support any type of private school voucher. ATPE requested the amendment.

    Floor amendment #9 by Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) to Senate Bill 1 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. The House adopted the amendment on April 6, 2017. (Record vote #163. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #9 - 2017: PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS

    Opposed vouchers. Opposed a budget amendment that would allow for the possibility of state-funded private school vouchers for certain students. Voted for a motion to table (kill) the amendment. ATPE opposed the amendment and backed the motion to table it.

    Motion by Rep. Abel Herrero (D-Corpus Christi) to table floor amendment #10 by Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) to Senate Bill 1 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. Cain tried to amend the budget bill in order to allow for the possibility of state-funded vouchers for low-income students. ATPE opposed the Cain amendment and supported Herrero's motion to table (kill) the amendment. The House voted to table Cain's amendment #10 on April 6, 2017. (Record vote #164. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #10 - 2017: PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS

    Opposed vouchers. Voted for a motion aimed at keeping private school voucher language out of a school finance bill. ATPE supported the motion.

    House Bill 21 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. A conference committee was appointed to try to negotiate a compromise between House and Senate versions of a school finance bill. This vote on May 24, 2017, was on an ATPE-supported motion by Rep. John Zerwas (R-Fulshear) to instruct members of that conference committee to reject any language in the bill that would allow private school vouchers. (Record vote #1712. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #11 - 2017: PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS

    Opposed vouchers. Voted against a motion that would have preserved the possibility of state-funded private school vouchers for students with special needs. ATPE opposed the motion.

    House Bill 21 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. A conference committee was appointed to try to negotiate a compromise between House and Senate versions of a school finance bill. This vote on May 24, 2017, was on a motion by Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) to instruct members of that conference committee to favor language in the bill that would allow private school vouchers for students with special needs. ATPE opposed the motion to instruct, which failed to pass. (Record vote #1713. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #12 - 2017: EDUCATOR QUALITY

    Supported measures to improve educator quality. Voted for a bill to establish a mentoring program for inexperienced teachers and state funding for mentor stipends, scheduled release time, and training. ATPE supported the bill, which later died in the Senate.

    House Bill 816 by Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. The House approved the bill on third reading on May 11, 2017. (Record vote #1162. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) The bill ultimately did not pass the Senate.

  • (Historical) House Vote #13 - 2017: EDUCATOR QUALITY

    Supported measures to improve educator quality. Voted for a bill that would prohibit school districts from assigning elementary school students in core subject classes to inexperienced or uncertified teachers for two consecutive years. ATPE supported the bill.

    House Bill 972 by Rep. Helen Giddings (D-Dallas), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. The House approved the bill on third reading on May 6, 2017. (Record vote #954. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) The bill later died in the Senate.

  • (Historical) House Vote #14 - 2017: SCHOOL SAFETY

    Supported "David's Law." Voted for a bill to prevent and address the problem of cyberbullying in schools. ATPE supported the bill.

    Senate Bill 179 by Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. The House voted to adopt the conference committee report and finally pass the bill on May 27, 2017. (Record vote #1938. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

Candidate Survey Responses


HAS NOT RESPONDED TO THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY.

Did not respond to the 2020 or 2018 ATPE Candidate Survey.

Below are the candidate's responses to our 2016 survey:


1. Is there a need to increase funding in order to meet the needs of our growing student population and ensure that students have access to high-quality teachers? If so, how would you recommend securing more revenue for public education?

Yes. Texas needs to increase total funding for public education. At a minimum, the state should fully restore the $5.4 billion in cuts that were made in 2011. Texas spends less per student than it did in 2008 despite an increase in the school population and increased performance standards. It should also update the funding formulas — many of which haven't been updated for over 30 years. Instead, Texas has chosen not to increase its investment in public education despite the ruling from a district judge that the school finance system is unconstitutional. The legislature should look at the following funding sources to identify additional revenue for public education: • Repeal the cut to the franchise tax made in 2015 ($2.6 billion); • Eliminate additional border security ($800 million); • Pay for DPS from the Highway Fund revenue, not from General Revenue; and • Use funds from the Rainy Day fund.

 

2. On what types of programs or specific areas of need would you prioritize the spending of state funds for public education?

The state needs to update the funding formulas to ensure equity among districts, and it needs to increase the overall level of support, ensuring that every district has more resources, not less. Although districts generally prefer additional funding to flow through formula funding, I would support dedicated funding to specific programs that ensure all students have access to certain services and programs such as: expansion of full-day preK for all students and restoration of funding to the Student Success Initiative (SSI). SSI ensures that students receive the instruction and support they need to succeed academically in reading and math, and it provides funds for programs and interventions that help students who have failed or are at risk of failing state-mandated tests. While the state increased accountability standards for students in 2011, it decreased funding to help students get there. I also support an across the board teacher/support staff pay raise at the state level that is not supplanted by a decrease at the local level, as well as an increase in the state contribution to teacher health insurance.

 

3. Would you vote to create a voucher, tax credit, grant, scholarship program, or any other type of incentive that would help cover the cost for students to attend non-public schools in grades K-12? Why or why not?

No – I will not support any proposal to create a voucher, or a neo-vouchers program in Texas. I will actively oppose any effort to pass legislation that supports private and religious school vouchers that subsidize private school education at taxpayer expense. Lt. Gov. Patrick has indicated that he will propose new ways to shift public dollars to private schools, including a program with a misleading name: "equal opportunity scholarships." Make no mistake – this "scholarship" program is a private school voucher that allows corporations to divert their state tax payments to pay for private and religious school tuition instead of going into the state's General Revenue to support public schools and other programs. This proposal will have serious budgetary implications for our public schools. Tax credits like the ones proposed by Lt. Gov. Patrick that divert dollars from the state's general revenue to pay tuition at private schools decrease the available dollars that should go to support our public schools and students. Any direct or indirect effort to shift public dollars away from public schools to pay tuition at private or religious schools is a voucher – no matter what it's called.

 

4. Would you vote to maintain a hard cap on the number of students per class, or should school administrators be given more flexibility to increase class sizes? (Currently, the law imposes a cap of 22:1 in grades K-4 but allows schools to obtain a waiver, a step a number of them routinely take.)

There is research supporting smaller class size to increase student achievement and narrow the achievement gap. There is also research that shows a boost in performance when there is increased per pupil spending. Schools and districts are caught in the squeeze when state funding per pupil is reduced, while at the same time, the student population increases - factors that can affect district decisions about class size. In fact, there was an increase in requests for class size waivers following the budget cuts made to public education in 2011. While I will support maintaining class size limits, with the opportunity for districts to request a waiver, as a local School Board member, I also know that districts can face hard choices about how to honor those limits given the serious budget constraints they face from funding cuts to public education. The answer is to fully fund public education, eliminating the budget constraints and decreasing the need for class size waivers.

 

5. What do you feel is the proper role of standardized testing in Texas's public education system? For instance, should tests be used for school accountability purposes, for evaluating teachers, for measuring the progress of students, etc.?

Testing should be used to assess student performance as a tool to guide instruction, intervention, and professional development so that the needs of students are addressed individually as well as at campus and district wide and resources can be targeted to areas of need. Using data effectively requires teaching planning time and support from the central office and the administration so that it can be discussed openly and without retribution. Testing should not be a punitive measure used to fire teachers or to close neighborhood schools which are inevitably schools in low-income neighborhoods where students face social and economic challenges.

 

6. Local decisions on teacher pay and whether to continue a teacher's employment are often based on evaluations. To what extent, if any, should a teacher's evaluation be based on his students' scores on state standardized tests? If you believe student test scores should factor into a teacher's evaluation, how would you recommend evaluating teachers in grades or subjects for which there are no state standardized tests?

I do not support using student scores on state standardized tests in teacher evaluations, although I will work with teacher organizations to determine how to best meet state requirements. The research is still very mixed regarding the accuracy of value-added models (VAM) used to measure student progress. In addition, there is no test data to use for teachers in subject areas that are not tested, leaving a big gap in the evaluation system. Finally, the use of test scores reinforces the use of state standardized tests results as a punitive measure for low-performing schools and promotes "teaching to the test. Teacher evaluations should use diverse evidence that includes an overall profile of teacher accomplishment.

 

7. Do you believe that the state should maintain a floor for classroom teacher salaries that includes annual increases based on experience over the first 20 years of a teacher's career?

I support a minimum salary schedule for teachers, regular salary increases, and an overall increase in teacher salaries to overcome a pay deficit in teacher salaries when they are compared to other professional jobs with similar entry level requirements (TEA 2014).

 

8. If a public school in your district failed to meet state accountability standards, what course of action would you recommend? Are there circumstances in which you would support allowing a private entity to take over the management of that school (for instance, by converting it to a charter school, placing it under a special statewide district for low-performing schools, replacing the elected school board, or hiring an outside entity to operate the school)?

I do not support allowing charter organizations, management companies, or an achievement authority to take over local schools that do not meet state accountability standards. I support the community school concept that provides additional resources to local schools to help them address the underlying factors that affect student performance by providing comprehensive support services to students and families, increasing academic support and interventions, bringing community resources into the schools, and supporting teachers and the administration.

 

9. The cost of health insurance for active educators has dramatically increased over the last decade, while the portion paid by the state has remained flat and significantly lagged behind that of private employers. How would you address the increasing cost of covering the education workforce's health insurance needs?

I will support legislation to increase the state contribution to health insurance for all school employees. The state's contribution has been stagnant, while costs have escalated. The cost of this increase could be covered by the revenue sources listed in question 1.

 

10. 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 would you vote to convert TRS to a defined contribution plan that is more like a 401(k), in which future benefits are not guaranteed? Why?

I support maintaining TRS as a traditional defined benefit pension plan that honors its commitment to teachers and staff. The defined pension serves as an incentive to recruit and retain high quality and experience educators. I would not support converting to a 401(k) plan that does not guarantee pensions.

 

Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey


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