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Judith Zaffirini
Texas Senate District 21
Status

incumbent

Party

Democrat

Occupation

Communication Specialist, businessperson, former educator

Address

PO Box 627, Laredo, TX, 78042

Additional Information

First elected to the Texas Senate in 1986. 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.

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

Endorsed by the editorial board of the San Antonio Express-News in the 2020 general election.

Endorsed in the 2020 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.


  • Senate Vote #1 - 2021: SPECIAL EDUCATION VOUCHERS

    Voted against a bill that would have created a special education voucher program, allowing parents to use public funds to privately purchase educational services. ATPE opposed this version of the bill.

    Senate Bill 1716 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. The bill as filed would have created a special education voucher program, which ATPE opposed. The Senate voted to approve the bill on third reading, May 4, 2021. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate Journal.) The House later removed the voucher language from another version of SB 1716 that passed and was signed into law without objection from ATPE.

  • Senate Vote #2 - 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.

    Senate Floor Amendment #14 by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville) to House Bill 1525 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 26, 2021, the Senate rejected the ATPE-supported amendment during its floor debate on a school finance clean-up bill. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate Journal.)

  • Senate Vote #3 - 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, sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) and Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 22, 2021, the Senate voted to pass the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate Journal.) Read more about the bill here.

  • Senate Vote #4 - 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), 87th Legislature, Second Called Session. The bill expanded upon and replaced HB 3979 that was passed during the regular session. The Senate voted Sept. 2, 2021, to concur in House amendments to the bill, thereby sending SB 3 to the governor for signature. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate Journal). Read more about SB 3 here.

  • Senate Vote #5 - 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. ATPE opposed the bill.

    House Bill 547 by Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Angela Paxton (R-McKinney), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate  amended the bill, 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. The Senate passed the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading, May 22, 2021. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate Journal.) Read more about the bill here.

  • Senate Vote #6 - 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), sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Drew Springer (R-Muenster), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate passed the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading, May 22, 2021. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate Journal). Read more about the bill here.

  • Senate Vote #7 - 2021: CHARTER SCHOOLS

    Voted against a bill that would have weakened voter oversight of charter schools by making it harder for the elected State Board of Education to veto new charter applications and reducing local voters' input regarding where charter schools are allowed to locate. ATPE opposed the bill.

    Senate Bill 28 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate passed the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading, April 15, 2021. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate Journal). SB 28 ultimately failed to pass the full Legislature. Read more about the bill here.

  • Senate 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), 87th Legislature, Second Called Session. On Aug. 9, 2021, the Senate voted to approve the ATPE-supported bill on third reading. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate Journal.)

  • Senate 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), sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. After the House and Senate passed different versions of the ATPE-opposed bill, HB 1468 was sent to a conference committee to generate a compromise version. On May 30, 2021, the Senate voted to pass the bill by adopting its conference committee report. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate Journal.) HB 1468 ultimately died when the House failed to vote on the conference committee report before the regular session ended.

  • Senate 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), 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. 31, 2021, the Senate voted to concur in House amendments to the bill, thereby sending SB 15 to the governor's desk. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate Journal). Read more about the bill here.

  • Senate Vote #11 - 2021: ACCOUNTABILITY

    Voted against an accountability bill that would have significantly expanded the appointed education commissioner's power to investigate and take over the management of school districts. ATPE opposed this version of the bill.

    Senate Bill 1365 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate passed its version of the school takeover bill, which ATPE opposed, on third reading, May 5, 2021. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate Journal.) SB 1365 was later amended favorably by the House, and the Legislature passed a final version of SB 1365 that ATPE did not oppose. Read more about the bill here.

  • Senate 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), sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate passed HB 4545 on third reading, May 26, 2021. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate Journal). Read more about the bill here.

  • (Historical) Senate 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 May 6, 2019, the Senate voted to approve the bill on third reading. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate 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 March 25, 2019, the Senate voted to approve the bill on third reading. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate 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 April 29, 2019, the Senate voted to approve the bill on third reading. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #4 - 2019: COMPENSATION

    Voted for a bill that would have provided across-the-board pay raises of $5,000 for classroom teachers and librarians.

    Senate Bill 3 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On March 4, 2019, the Senate voted to approve the bill on third reading. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.) The bill later died in the House as other teacher pay language was chosen for inclusion in House Bill 3.

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #5 - 2019: COMPENSATION

    Co-authored and voted for an amendment to House Bill 3 that would have removed a controversial merit pay program from the school finance bill. ATPE supported the amendment.

    Senate Floor Amendment #8 by Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) to House Bill 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. During the Senate floor debate on the school finance bill on May 6, 2019, Sen. Menendez offered Floor Amendment #8 to remove merit pay language from the bill. The amendment failed to pass. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #6 - 2019: COMPENSATION

    Authored and voted for an amendment to House Bill 3 that would have provided a pay raise to all professional school employees, in addition to classroom teachers and librarians. ATPE supported the amendment.

    Senate Floor Amendment #30 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) to House Bill 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. During the Senate floor debate on the school finance bill on May 6, 2019, Sen. Zaffirini offered Floor Amendment #30 to provide a pay raise for all professional public school employees. The amendment failed to pass. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #7 - 2019: TESTING

    Voted for an amendment to House Bill 3 that would have required passages on STAAR exams to be written at the appropriate grade-levels. ATPE supported the amendment.

    Senate Floor Amendment #66 by Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) to House Bill 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. During the Senate floor debate on the school finance bill on May 6, 2019, Sen. Menendez offered Floor Amendment #66 to ensure grade-level readability of STAAR tests. The amendment failed to pass. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #8 - 2019: VOUCHERS

    Voted against a bill that would have expanded full-time virtual schools and created a "virtual voucher." ATPE opposed the bill.

    Senate Bill 1455 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 23, 2019, the Senate voted to approve the bill on third reading. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.) The bill later died after it was left pending in a House committee.

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

    Voted against a bill that would have restricted educators' First Amendment rights to engage in political speech and subjected them to criminal penalties. ATPE opposed the bill.

    Senate Bill 1569 by Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 17, 2019, the Senate voted to approve the bill on third reading. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.) The bill later died after it was left pending in a House committee.

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #10 - 2019: POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT

    Voted against a bill to 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 April 17, 2019, the Senate voted to approve the bill on third reading. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.) The bill was later defeated on the House floor.

  • (Historical) Senate 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. The Senate voted on May 27, 2017, to adopt the conference committee report and approve final passage of the bill. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #2 - 2017: STUDENT TESTING

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

    Senate Bill 463 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate voted to approve the bill on third reading and final passage on May 1, 2017. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #3 - 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 Senate voted to approve its committee substitute version of the bill on third reading and final passage on May 21, 2017. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #4 - 2017: RETIREMENT BENEFITS

    Supported long-term state funding increases for retired educators' healthcare. Voted for an ATPE-supported amendment that called for a permanent increase to the state's contributions to TRS-Care, rather than a one-time supplemental increase. The amendment did not pass.

    Floor amendment #3 by Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) to Senate Bill 19 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), 85th Legislature, Special Session. The Senate voted against the amendment on July 25, 2017. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #5 - 2017: PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS

    Opposed vouchers. Twice voted against a private school voucher bill, which called for both tax credit scholarships and education savings account vouchers. ATPE opposed the bill.

    Senate Bill 3 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. This ATPE-opposed bill called for creating private school vouchers in the form of tax credit scholarships and education savings accounts. The Senate voted to approve the voucher bill on second and third readings on March 30, 2017, but the bill ultimately died in the House. (View an official record of the votes here and here in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #6 - 2017: EDUCATOR QUALITY

    Supported educator quality. Voted against a bill that would have lowered standards for educator preparation programs. ATPE and many in the education community opposed this bill, which would have rolled back SBEC rules aimed at ensuring all children have access to well-trained educators.

    Senate Bill 1278 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate voted to approve its committee substitute version of the bill on third reading on May 10, 2017. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.) SB 1278 ultimately failed, although some pieces of the legislation were added to other bills.

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #7 - 2017: PAYROLL DEDUCTION

    Voted against a bill that would take away educators' right to use payroll deduction for their voluntary professional association dues. ATPE opposed the bill, which passed the Senate but ultimately failed in the House.

    Senate Bill 13 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), 85th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate voted to approve its committee substitute version of the bill on third reading on March 30, 2017. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #8 - 2017: PAYROLL DEDUCTION

    Supported allowing educators to use payroll deduction to pay association dues. Supported an ATPE-backed amendment that would preserve educators' right to use payroll deduction for their voluntary dues paid to professional associations.

    Motion by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) to table floor amendment #4 by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) to Senate Bill 13 by Huffman, 85th Legislature, Regular Session. ATPE opposed the motion to table, supported the Lucio amendment, and opposed the bill. The Senate voted on March 29, 2017, to table the ATPE-supported amendment. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #9 - 2017: PAYROLL DEDUCTION

    Supported an ATPE-backed amendment, which would have applied a proposed ban on payroll deductions to all types of deductions, rather than discriminating against educators who join professional associations.

    Motion by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) to table floor amendment #6 by Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) to Senate Bill 13 by Huffman, 85th Legislature, Regular Session. ATPE opposed the motion to table, supported the Rodriguez amendment, and opposed the bill. The Senate voted on March 29, 2017, to table the ATPE-supported amendment. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #10 - 2017: PAYROLL DEDUCTION

    Supported local options allowing educators to use payroll deduction to pay association dues. Supported an ATPE-backed amendment that would have allowed local school boards to decide whether or not to offer their school district employees the right to payroll deduct their voluntary association dues.

    Motion by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) to table floor amendment #7 by Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) to Senate Bill 13 by Huffman, 85th Legislature, Regular Session. ATPE opposed the motion to table, supported the Rodriguez amendment, and opposed the bill. The Senate voted on March 29, 2017, to table the ATPE-supported amendment. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #11 - 2017: PAYROLL DEDUCTION

    Supported allowing educators to use payroll deduction to pay association dues. Voted against a bill that would take away educators' right to use payroll deduction for their voluntary professional association dues. ATPE opposed the bill, which passed the Senate but ultimately died in the House.

    Senate Bill 7 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), 85th Legislature, Special Session. The Senate voted to approve the bill on third reading on July 26, 2017. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #12 - 2017: PAYROLL DEDUCTION

    Supported allowing educators to use payroll deduction to pay association dues. Voted for an amendment that would preserve educators' right to use payroll deduction for their voluntary dues paid to professional associations. ATPE supported the amendment.

    Floor amendment #1 by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) to Senate Bill 7 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), 85th Legislature, Special Session. The Senate voted to reject the amendment on July 25, 2017. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #13 - 2017: PAYROLL DEDUCTION

    Supported allowing educators to use payroll deduction to pay association dues. Voted for an amendment that would preserve educators' right to use payroll deduction for their voluntary association dues as long as there is no cost to the state or school district. ATPE supported the amendment.

    Floor amendment #5 by Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) to Senate Bill 7 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), 85th Legislature, Special Session. The Senate voted to reject the amendment on July 25, 2017. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

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

    Supported David's Law. Voted for a bill to prevent and respond to cyberbullying in schools. ATPE supported the bill.

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

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #1 - 2015: VOLUNTARY PAYROLL DEDUCTION

    Supported payroll deduction as a convenience for public employees. Voted against a bill to prohibit school districts and other governmental entities from offering payroll deduction as a means of letting their employees pay voluntary dues to professional associations. ATPE opposed the bill, which was likely unconstitutional and designed to discourage public employees from joining professional associations. The bill ultimately died in the House.

    Senate Bill 1968 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), 84th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate voted to approve a committee substitute version of the bill on third reading on May 7, 2015. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #2 - 2015: TESTING & GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS

    Voted for a bill to give some high school students who've failed certain STAAR tests a pathway to graduate. The bill allows individual graduation committees to decide, based on the student's academic record and other measures, if the student is college- and career-ready. ATPE supported the bill, which later passed the House and was signed into law.

    Senate Bill 149 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), 84th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate voted to approve a committee substitute version of the bill on third reading on March 17, 2015. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #3 - 2015: EDUCATOR COMPENSATION & EVALUATION

    Voted for a bill to do away with the minimum salary schedule for teachers and compel school districts to evaluate and compensate their teachers based on measures that are potentially unreliable, such as students' standardized test score data. ATPE opposed the bill, which ultimately died in the House.

    Senate Bill 893 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), 84th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate voted to approve a committee substitute version of the bill on third reading on April 7, 2015. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #4 - 2015: PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS

    Voted against a private school voucher "scholarship" bill that would divert state franchise tax dollars away from the state budget and use them to subsidize private and religious schools that are not held accountable to taxpayers and voters. ATPE opposed the bill, which ultimately died in the House.

    Senate Bill 4 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 84th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate voted to approve a committee substitute version of the bill on third reading on April 21, 2015. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #5 - 2015: PRIVATIZATION & SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY

    Voted against a bill to expand "parent trigger" laws in Texas and make it easier for struggling schools to be placed under private management and subject to deregulation upon a petition by parents. ATPE opposed the bill, which was pushed by the controversial group Texans for Education Reform. The bill ultimately died in the House.

    Senate Bill 14 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 84th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate voted to approve a committee substitute version of the bill on third reading on March 31, 2015. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #6 - 2015: SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY

    Voted against an accountability bill to assign "A" through "F" letter grades to school campuses. ATPE opposed the bill and opposes assigning failure labels to schools. This bill was part of a package of reform legislation being pushed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R). SB 6 did not ultimately pass, but a similar provision was added to another comprehensive bill (HB 2804) that did pass.

    Senate Bill 6 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 84th Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate voted to approve a committee substitute version of the bill on third reading on March 31, 2015. (View an official record of the vote in the Senate journal.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #1 - 2013: EDUCATION FUNDING

    Voted for a budget bill providing increased funding for public education and a partial restoration of the education budget cuts made in 2011.

    Senate Bill 1 by Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands), 83rd 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 Sen. Williams, the Senate voted to adopt the conference committee report on May 25, 2013.

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #2 - 2013: EDUCATION FUNDING

    Voted for a measure that would have moved $200 million out of the transportation budget and into the public education budget instead.

    Senate Joint Resolution 1 by Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands), 83rd Legislature, Regular Session. The bill supplemented the primary budget legislation by calling for the expenditure of some "Rainy Day" funds for state projects, including water infrastructure and economic development. Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) offered floor amendment #5 as an attempt to add funds to the public education budget. The Senate failed to adopt the Watson amendment April 23, 2013.

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #3 - 2013: EDUCATION FUNDING

    Voted for two measures that would have increased public education formula funding by taking money out of a controversial merit pay program.

    Senate Joint Resolution 1 by Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands), 83rd Legislature, Regular Session. The bill supplemented the primary budget legislation by calling for the expenditure of some "Rainy Day" funds for state projects, including water infrastructure and economic development. Sens. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) and Wendy Davis (D-Ft. Worth) both offered floor amendments (#2 and #3, respectively) in an attempt to increase public education formula funding. The Senate rejected both amendments with identical record votes April 23, 2013.

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #4 - 2013: RETIREMENT BENEFITS

    Voted for a bill to shore up the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) and provide most retirees with a benefit increase.

    Senate Bill 1458 by Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock), 83rd Legislature, Regular Session. The Senate voted to approve the bill on third reading May 8, 2013.

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #5 - 2013: EDUCATOR QUALITY

    Voted for a teacher quality bill to raise the standards for entering the education profession; require school districts to provide appraisal results to teachers in a timely manner and consider multiple years' appraisal results in making personnel decisions; and require the state to conduct a survey of teacher working conditions and salaries.

    House Bill 2012 by Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio), 83rd Legislature, Regular Session. A conference committee was appointed to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of this bill. On a motion by Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), the Senate voted to adopt the conference committee report May 26, 2013.

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #6 - 2013: EDUCATOR QUALITY

    Voted for a bill to create the Texas Teacher Residency Program, a high-quality university program through which new teachers would receive stipends and employment at a school district or charter school while earning a master's degree.

    House Bill 1752 by Rep. Diane Patrick (R-Arlington), 83rd Legislature, Regular Session. On a motion by Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin), the Senate voted to approve its version of the bill on third reading May 17, 2013. (The House later accepted the Senate version of the bill, enabling the bill to be finally passed.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #7 - 2013: TESTING & CURRICULUM

    Voted for a bill that would have reduced time spent on standardized testing in grades 3-8; required validation of the tests and better monitoring of state contracts with test vendors; and called for a state study of the high number of curriculum standards (TEKS).

    House Bill 2836 by Rep. Bennett Ratliff (R-Coppell), 83rd Legislature, Regular Session. On a motion by Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), the Senate unanimously voted to approve the testing and curriculum-related bill on third reading May 22, 2013. (The House also approved the bill, but it was later vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #8 - 2013: TESTING

    Voted for a bill to reduce the amount of standardized testing in grades 3-8 by allowing certain students with high STAAR scores to skip the exams in some years.

    House Bill 866 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 83rd Legislature, Regular Session. On a motion by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), the Senate voted to approve the bill on third reading May 21, 2013.

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #9 - 2013: SCHOOL COUNSELORS

    Voted for a bill to require schools to notify the public if a full-time school counselor is not assigned to the campus.

    Senate Bill 401 by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville), 83rd Legislature, Regular Session. A conference committee was appointed to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of this bill requiring public notice when a full-time school counselor is not assigned to a public school campus. On a motion by Sen. Lucio, the Senate voted to adopt the conference committee report May 26, 2013. (However, the bill later died when a similar motion to adopt the conference committee report failed in the House.)

  • (Historical) Senate Vote #10 - 2013: CHARTER SCHOOLS

    Voted for a bill to expand the number of charters granted by the state and change the charter school authorization process.

    Senate Bill 2 by Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), 83rd Legislature, Regular Session. A conference committee was appointed to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of this bill expanding charter schools in Texas and changing the process by which charters are granted. On a motion by Sen. Patrick, the Senate voted to adopt the conference committee report May 26, 2013.

Candidate Survey Responses


Has not responded to the 2022 ATPE Candidate Survey.

RESPONSES TO THE 2020 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:


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

My top priorities will include defending public education from budget cuts and supporting teachers before, during, and after their careers by recruiting the best, paying them better, and improving their retirement benefits.

 

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 should sustain the funding added via House Bill 3, including by using general revenue or tapping the rainy day fund. Failing that, we should consider new sources of revenue to ensure our schools are funded adequately. Yes. I believe additional funding is needed.

 

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 have voted consistently for TRS and TRS Care and will continue to do so. The state should increase its share of funding to ensure that active and retired educators have access to affordable healthcare.

 

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 believe TRS should be maintained as a traditional defined benefit pension plan for all future, current, and retired educators.

 

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.?

Generally, I oppose high-stakes standardized testing and specifically oppose administering the STAAR during the pandemic. Testing has a role, but I do not believe it should be the primary factor in assessing our students, teachers, and schools.

 

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

Minimally, if at all.

 

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.

 

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?

Support.

 

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?

For-profit charter schools have no place in our Texas education system. Non-profit charter schools should be only a last resort when school districts fail to meet their responsibility to educate all children.

 

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 oppose any deregulation of public schools that could reduce the quality of instruction provided to Texas children. Any limited deregulation allowed should be scrutinized strictly.

 

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