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Justin Calhoun
Texas House District 73
Status

Candidate

Party

Democrat

Occupation

Social Worker

Address

P.O. Box 312547 , New Braunfels, TX, 78131

Additional Information

Calhoun participated in a nonpartisan candidate forum hosted by the education-focused nonprofit organization Raise Your Hand Texas prior to the 2022 primary election. Watch video of that event here.

Candidate Survey Responses


RESPONSES TO THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:

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


To increase the per-student spending in our lower-income school and increase teacher pay and retirement.

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?

Yes, Texas is still 42nd in per-student spending, and our educators deserve competitive pay across the state. We should look at alternative income to increase school funding without breaking the bank for homeowners.

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?

In general, healthcare costs need a significant change to make it more affordable and accessible to all of Texas. Our educators deserve benefits that equal their service to our communities during and after their service.

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 that our teachers deserve a retirement system that meets the growing cost of living, that is reliable and sustainable. I would not support converting our current approach to anything that would not meet those expectations.

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 think testing should measure the student's needs and allow for teacher's planning. They should not be used for accountability for schools or teachers. There are various other data points not measured by testing that significantly impact students' performance and overall schools.

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?

No, public fund should remain in public schools.

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 this, it is their pay and they should use it as they see fit.

8. What role, if any, should charter schools have in the public education system, and do you feel the number of charter schools operating in Texas should be reduced or expanded?

I do not support charter schools; they take funding out of the hands of public institutions and are not held to the same standard.

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?

The state and school districts should work together to establish requirements. The state should issue minimal standards as they have in the past under TAC, Title 24 Health services. The school district should have the authority to add to that standard as they and the community see fit.

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?

I do not support full virtual education as the standard tends to be lower and youth benefit from direct interaction from educators. It should be used to enhance the current education system and as an emergency resource.

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 standardize the expected curriculum across the state of Texas. For example, the state could require that students participate in algebra, geometry, and one elective or advanced math class through middle school. However, the school district and individual educators should be encouraged to develop the lesson plan and enhance state standards to the needs or abilities of the 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?

We need to create competitive salaries for all educators and increase benefits. Increase the number of educators we have so that classrooms can be manageable. We need to streamline the administrative aspect of teaching.
 

Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey


COMMENTS SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:

My job as a Representative will not be to create solutions to problems I think exist, but to listen to the professionals in that field. They are the only ones that will know what the issues are and the most effective ways of solving them.