P.O. Box 40969, Austin, TX, 78704
Additional InformationEndorsed 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 2022 Democratic primary election.
Flores 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?
Outside of the education funding, support for teachers and retirees, and helping rectify the learning loss suffered under COVID-19, I want to focus on increasing funding and access for arts education across grade levels and regardless of zip code, improve the school breakfast/lunch program and education on nutrition and healthier lifestyles, and reduce inequities in broadband access and STEM especially for undeserved parts of my district. Texas used to be a leader in public education policy and outcomes, it's time we are again.
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?
Public school funding is a constitutional mandate and our most critical budgetary responsibility. The state has not paid its fair share historically, and while the investments in House Bill 3 (86R) help offset that shortfall there is still more to be done. Budget decisions are a question of our values. Instead of spending money on partisan priorities, we should invest in our children and their future as well as ensure better pay, benefits, and working conditions for our education professionals. Additionally, public school funding isn’t a matter of a one time fix, it must be a continuing conversation to ensure the Legislature is meeting the needs of our state.
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?
Healthcare has increasingly become the highest cost for Texas families. We must ensure access to quality, affordable care for active and retired school employees. Similarly, we cannot allow healthcare benefits to merely be fungible – that is, we cannot cut services or raise premiums to offset other improvements in pay or benefits where the reality is there is still a burden being placed back on educators or retired educators. In addition, we must study and implement any needed reforms to ensure that in any future times of pandemic or other crisis that the regulatory framework provides flexibility in enrollments or changes and prioritizes access to 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 support maintaining TRS as a traditional defined benefit pension plan and am adamantly opposed to changing that. We must invest in TRS so that the actuarial soundness of our pension system is not in question as well as provide for a long-overdue cost of living adjustment for our retirees. Similarly, when funding is supplied we cannot merely offset it by increasing premiums or making cuts to TRS Care or other benefits that merely shifts the burdens for our retirees. Furthermore, I support reforming the Windfall Elimination Provision and permitting education employees to access social security.
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.?
While some testing is required by the federal government, at the state level we must take action to eliminate those tests not required as well as generally reduce our over-reliance on standardized testing. These tests do not measure learning and are not a good indicator of teacher performance or the progress made in the classroom.
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?
Public dollars should not be spent on private schools. I am committed to resisting voucher schemes in any form.
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 right. I believe voluntary payroll deduction is a critical component of the ability of workers to organize for better pay, improved benefits, and for respect and dignity.
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 the rapid expansion of charter schools. This is not what was intended when charter schools were first created nearly thirty years ago. Additionally, they must be held to the same levels of transparency and accountability as traditional public schools.
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?
I support local districts in being able to make the decisions that are best for their communities. While some state standards or regulatory framework may make sense, the local school boards and district staff are closest to their community in terms of understanding the needs and best situated to respond. If masks, immunizations, temporary virtual learning, or otherwise are what is needed, they should be able to make those decisions without partisan political agendas coming into play. Also I believe schools should be subject to OSHA regulations to ensure campus safety.
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?
Virtual education may make sense in certain circumstances for an individual student and as a temporary measure during a pandemic or similar such emergency. However, I do not otherwise believe that full-time virtual education should be expanded. Many students saw learning loss as a result and are not able to get the full range of support and services they need outside of a traditional classroom setting.
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?
My father was one of the founders of LULAC and I got my start at the Texas Legislature working for Rep. Irma Rangel. I carry their lessons with me to this day–including remembering who you are, where you came from, and what you are fighting for. It’s critical that our children are taught real history and able to freely discuss current events. The classroom is exactly the place for such discussion. We need to worry less about banning books and controlling speech and more about fostering creative and critical thinking to prepare our children to go to college or enter the workforce upon graduation and be responsible and knowledgeable citizens of the world.
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?
Many teachers, first responders, and front-line workers have faced unprecedented challenges in dealing with COVID-19 and as a result are facing burnout or leaving their professions. Losing experienced and quality educators is not good for our children. We need to ensure that our education professionals receive additional professional development, mentorship, and support as well as ensure adequate staffing and not having to do administrative or other tasks during planning time so that workloads are manageable. I support utilizing the Economic Stabilization Fund, commonly referred to as the Rainy Day Fund, to provide additional resources to our schools.
Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey
COMMENTS SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:
Public education is one of my highest priorities. I worked summers in college as a teacher aide at the public migrant school, teaching reading and arts/crafts. I come from a family of educators, my mom and two of my siblings were both teachers and my father served on the Laredo ISD school board. Additionally, I have been a mentor and volunteer through the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin at Sanchez Elementary and Martin Middle School as well as at the University of Texas through the Center for Women and Gender Studies NEW Leadership Texas. I am also a long term supporter of education-related non-profits, including AVANCE, which works with hard to reach, low-income families to provide education, life skills, and enrichment programs and Friends of Children-Austin, which pairs at-risk children with mentors for their entire K-12 school years to help them succeed, as well as GEN - Austin which prepares middle school girls to succeed in school and life.