Independent / Third-Party
150 South Shore Road, P.O. Box 1434, Bastrop, TX, 78602
Candidate Survey Responses
RESPONSES TO THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:
1. If elected, what will be your top priorities for public education?
I support public education and I want to see more funding from the general fund and taxpayer relief. The following is how I hope we could get there. I want to require bond packages to be itemized so that voters know what we're voting on. I already know taxpayers would support increasing teacher pay and would vote against bonds that fund building demolitions or expensive architectural designs, while our teachers are underpaid. I want to give middle and lower-income people relief on their property taxes by ending 20% undervaluations of large-scale commercial properties and undervaluations of million-dollar-plus homes. I support the planned ending Chapter 313 subsidies; I want schools funded more from the general fund, which in the end. pit districts against districts. Here in my district, solar farms are receiving 313 subsidies and then clear-cutting forests!
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, I believe more funding is needed, but I see a lack of political will to equitably fund public education. We are too reliant on funding sources developed in our early history that are not exactly the wave of the future (mineral rights, etc.) House Bill 3 was a modest start, but we need to find a way forward. What I would like to do is a survey of citizens to ask them what their priorities are -- to actually poll them. I would bet that public education funding would be one of Texans' top priorities over, let's say, the Texas Enterprise Fund. Hunting and pecking for money for education is so 1800s!
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 support competitive health insurance benefits that are on par with other state employees or better. Obviously, there is a problem in the healthcare system itself. We need to expand Medicaid funding already. And, I want to see what we, as a state, can do to return care to preventive and primary care -- moving us away from corporatized healthcare that continues to promote disease care.
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 agree with your plan as laid out in your legislative program to make sure retirement is guaranteed -- to ensure TRS's traditional benefit pension plan and increased state contributions. No teacher should have to question the security of their retirement.
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.?
We are so obsessed with testing kids and teachers, we are killing creativity and therefore, education. I especially object to the third-party test "monsters" - profiteers who are dooming students to failure. I read your eight-point proposal and I think it's well crafted and sound. Therefore, I fully support it.
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, I don't support diverting public education dollars to private entities.
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 have long supported the right to organize, including public employees.
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?
There is too much room here in Texas for profiteering corruption in private school settings using public dollars. I agree with the points you lay out about bringing charter schools up to the same standards as public schools. That said, what is the point of charter schools? I don't support two separate education systems. If the charters are truly going to provide different settings in which we can learn how to better educate and to feed that back into the public system, then great. But are they?
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 districts should be required and allowed to follow the recommendations of health authorities, like the CDC. The politicization by officials and political operatives should be seen for what it is -- is an attack on local control.
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 believe virtual education has its place for special needs, but it should not be a substitute for in-classroom education. If we are going to do it we need to compensate teachers, accordingly. as it's like teaching two different classrooms. The give and take that students experience in a group setting is important to keep alive and working parents need to be considered.
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?
I recognize we need a base level of standards, but I also recognize there are not enough educators involved in setting those standards, especially when it comes to the SBOE. But, I support greater local control in developing curriculums than we typically see today.
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?
Why not allow people with associate degrees to be apprentice teachers and find a role for them within our education system? Note: The TEA's decision to divert $5B in COVID relief funds for education to our general fund was shameful. If I work to implement what I laid out in questions 1 and 2, we can get the student-per-teacher ratio down, we can lighten the workloads on teachers. We have to do all we can to make teaching a desirable "calling."
Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey
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