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Ginny Brown Daniel
Texas House District 150
Status

Challenger

Party

Democrat

Occupation

Minister

Address

27719 Nelson Street, Spring, TX, 77373

Additional Information


Candidate Survey Responses


RESPONSES TO THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:

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


My priority for public education in Texas is to empower and fund teachers and administrators to develop students with necessary critical thinking skills to be productive and successful individuals in their lives and the community. This priority requires the following tangible foci:

1. Teacher retention through compensation and other incentives. Excellent teachers are essential to the success of our students, schools, and communities. And teachers are resigning at a rapid rate because of the pandemic (and other factors). We must retain excellent teachers through incentives that affirm their excellence and encourage them to renew themselves.

2. Greater stability in Funding for Public Education. There must be stability in public education funding. This comes from developing a funding strategy and removing vouchers or charter schools from being funded with public education funds.

3. Assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of public education during the pandemic. We have much to learn of how public schools were impacted by the current pandemic. This assessment can better inform what policies, funding, and procedures we implement if there is another global pandemic or comparable event.

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?

There is instability in funding for public education in Texas because of our lack of a statewide income tax, which affords other states a constancy regardless of geography and size. Therefore, it is critical to maintain a balance of funding from all levels. At the local level, this funding comes in higher property taxes, which must be done within reason for local homeowners. The state’s contribution has recently been challenged by inflation and the population growth.

My recommendations would include looking at the current funding gaps at all levels. When corporations are given a tax break, how much money are public schools losing. Could we mandate a minimal tax to all corporations for public schools? I would also recommend that the state’s contribution not be reduced when property taxes increase in a given school district. There must be a formula to account for inflation and population growth that adjusts state contributions as well.

Regarding the increases due to House Bill 3, the state’s rainy-day fund needs to be judiciously included in a funding strategy. If these are priorities enough to be legislated, they must be funded accordingly.

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?

I am aware that rising health care costs are a challenge for all industries including public schools in Texas. School districts and the state must work together to address this challenge because strong healthcare and retirement plans are critical in hiring and retaining excellent teachers and school staff.

Regarding the cost to retirees, I am aware that for the last several sessions, the state legislature has passed a supplemental payment to keep premiums from rising for retirees. Although this is helpful, the question still remains as to how to keep healthcare affordable for currently employed and retired staff.

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?

Although I think there are benefits to both options, I am concerned that there may be more volatility with a defined contribution plan. This is especially true for staff and districts that are not paid as well and would not be able to contribute to their own retirement fund.

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.?

I believe standardized testing is beneficial as one of many factors to be considered for teacher pay, school accountability, and student progress. It should not the primary motivating factor for assessing the success or failure of teachers, schools, and students. As one who struggled with standardized testing, I am aware how too much focus on this mode of testing could potentially hinder similar students. I am also aware that research shows that standardized testing discriminates against students of color and low-income students.

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 do not believe in any form of diverting public school funds to attend private or home schools. When I pay my property taxes, I know that my taxes are necessary in order to support strong public schools in my community. Although I recognize there are challenges to public school funding, there is no viable solution by diverting those critical funds to non-public school options.

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?

I support the opportunity for teachers to voluntarily choose to have their professional association dues deducted from their paychecks.

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?

Charter schools should not be factored into the public education system because it dilutes the funding, leadership, and resources from public schools in the area.

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?

As with other factors related to public education in Texas, school districts should have the authority to implement necessary actions during disease outbreaks. The state should provide necessary policies and guidelines in order for the individual districts to adapt them accordingly for their unique context and needs. The priority during disease outbreaks must be the safety for the students, teachers, staff, and community.

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?

Like all modes of education, there are strengths and weaknesses to virtual education. At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual education enabled the safety of all involved while providing quality educational opportunities. And, virtual education illuminated the socio-economic gaps of our residents. Low-income families struggled because of internet and technology accessibility while their parents often were the essential workers who had to work or find someone to watch their children at home. Generally speaking, virtual education benefits highly motivated students. Therefore, if I would recommend virtual education for highly motivated students. I can see where virtual education could benefit schools when inclement weather is anticipated.

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?

The state should set the expectations and guidelines from a macro-level and then empower individual districts to implement curriculum and instructional materials from a micro-level. The state should not micromanage teachers on curriculum. It is the school districts’ responsibility to assess the curriculum with the teachers and students.

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 was impressed with Aldine ISD when they recently announced that students would not come to school for three Fridays during February in order to provide teachers time to get caught up and prevent additional burn-out. Although I can imagine this was difficult for some parents, who had to find alternative options for their children, I applaud Aldine for acknowledging the challenge of teacher exhaustion and providing temporary relief for these teachers and staff.

I have also heard of schools asking parent associations to step up as substitute teachers when there was a recent spike in covid-related teacher absences. I think this could be extended to include similar mental health days for teachers.

It is essential that school districts provide such support and relief or else there will be a significant loss of teachers in the next few years related to similar factors as we are seeing with the Great Resignation.

Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey


COMMENTS SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:

I am grateful for all who work in the public schools in Texas especially as we approach the third year of the pandemic. Your commitment to the education of our children is admirable especially given the financial and emotional sacrifices you have made. Thank you.