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Jon Rosenthal
Texas House District 135
Status

incumbent

Party

Democrat

Occupation

Mechanical Engineer

Address

1 Greenway Plaza, #740, Houston, TX, 77046

Additional Information

First elected to the Texas House in 2018. Current term expires Jan. 2023.

Endorsed by the editorial board of the Houston Chronicle for the 2020 general election.

In the 2018 election, he 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.


  • 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 for 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 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. Rosenthal voted against HB 547 on third reading. Later, he voted for a motion to concur with Senate amendments to the bill, which sent HB 547 to the governor. However, in comments entered into the House Journal after the vote, Rosenthal stated he intended to vote against the motion to concur. 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 for 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 for 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 against 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 aa 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.)

Candidate Survey Responses


HAS NOT RESPONDED TO THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY.

BELOW ARE THE CANDIDATE'S RESPONSES TO THE 2020 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:


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

1. First and foremost we'll have quite a job to do just trying to keep the gains we fought for last session in the face of a massive budget shortfall. 2. Next we must continue to fight to increase funding for both public education and also to help TRS with a long-overdue cost of living increase plus reducing healthcare and insurance costs (Medicaid Expansion can help with healthcare costs) 3. My long term goal is to "repeal and replace" the STAAR test. First steps are to decouple it from school accountability and also further increase pilot programs for alternative testing and evaluation systems.

 

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?

As in the previous question, this is my first priority for public education and I believe we are in for a fight! My recommendations are similar to last cycle - we need to secure the revenue to both sustain the gains from the 86th session and also to further improve funding. I believe good places to start would be as follows: First - Close the "Equal and Uniform" loophole for corporate property taxes. The big corporations should pay a fair share, just like you and I. Second - require transparency on commercial property values, selling prices must be open for tax assessment purposes. Third - we should expand Medicaid in Texas (it's not directly tied to school finance, but would lower the healthcare financial burdens on teachers and retirees). Fourth - legalize marijuana for all uses including recreational with appropriate regulations and taxing. Fifth - reduce (or better yet eliminate) Texas spending on border security since it is Federal Gov't responsibility

 

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?

Funny you should ask! I've already mentioned the Medicaid expansion a couple of times so that's a big first step. Second step should be to get a better deal on healthcare for public education workers as a GROUP (all the workers and ISDs in Texas included). Use the massive purchasing power of the Texas public education system as a whole to drive for better coverage at lower rates. This should be done using the WHOLE system, not shopped by individual ISDs (if that is indeed how it's currently managed)

 

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?

Keep the defined benefit pension plan for sure - AND also allow teachers who participated in the Social Security system to keep those benefits as well. It strikes me as patently unfair to not allow people to keep the savings in all systems they participate in and contribute to (sorry for ending with a preposition!)

 

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.?

How much time do you have? I've worked on this at length because I believe what we are doing now with STAAR and the accountability and teacher evaluations is detrimental to the point of being criminal. And please be advised that I'm a lifelong Mechanical Engineer by trade so I believe in TESTING! You should hear me go on about COVID testing (but that's another topic). Apologies for digressing..... First we need to get rid of STAAR and replace it with a system that is *valid* for measuring student progress AND level. That's a very basic first step. Multiple studies show that the current STAAR system is discriminatory and also almost entirely divorced from the in-class experience. Using a deeply flawed and ineffective instrument for any measurement is a huge problem but then tying those flawed results to school accountability, district financing, and teacher performance is an absolute disaster that not only adversely affects how our kids learn but is also traumatic and damaging for students and teachers and staff alike. The current system needs a dramatic and complete overhaul. Modern testing systems allow for real-time results available in the classroom, and some of the more advanced systems are designed with questions structured to help teachers understand how students process certain types of information and logic - in real time - in the classroom. Testing can be a very valuable tool for measuring student progress and checking for level proficiency, and it can also be a helpful resource to help teachers work more effectively with students on an individual level. Now, attaching test scores to school accountability or teacher pay? To me, this is currently managed in exactly the reverse of what logic dictates. If a school or an ISD (or a class) is struggling then the current system reduces resource allocation. Who in the world thinks you can improve education performance by TAKING AWAY resources? This boggles my mind. How about instead we allocate EXTRA resources to struggling schools and do things like offer teacher stipends to encourage more talented and motivated teachers to move in to the most challenged environments?

 

6. To what extent should student performance determine teacher pay?

To me this is kind of a ridiculous question since there are so many moving parts to this dynamic, starting with the lack of a VALID, equitable, and consistent measurement of "student performance". Here's one basic truth on evaluating teachers: the people on campus know who the talented and motivated and effective teachers are. It becomes obvious very quickly. Just go to a campus and ask around. Teacher pay should be determined on multiple criteria (certainly including seniority!), and legislators should be working with classroom teachers and school administrators to develop those criteria. After all, who is better at figuring out how to evaluate a teacher than other teachers?

 

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?

No. Nope. No way.

 

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 support allowing employees to choose.

 

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?

I've come to believe that not all charter operations are inherently evil, but some certainly are using our system for profit and in the process they are disadvantaging our overall public education system. The original intent as I understand it was for charters to be vehicles to test innovations in techniques and methods, and that would be ok if it were always (or usually) true - but that's often not the case. Also, Charters are currently funded differently and are not subject to the same rules and accountability as ISDs. With today's current budget crunch there is NO WAY that any new charters should be approved until we re-stabilize our economy and budget, and even then I believe we need to change the rules to be more equitable and prevent profiteering by charter organizations. The charters that are draining resources away from traditional public schools while producing substandard results should be eliminated or restructured and all should be accountable to the communities the way that traditional public schools are.

 

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?

I disagree with this type of deregulation.

 

Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey


No additional comments