1324 E Madison, Brownsville, TX, 78520
Additional InformationLaMantia won a May 24 runoff in the 2022 Democratic primary for Texas Senate District 27.
Endorsed in the 2022 general election and Democratic primary 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.
LaMantia 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.
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Candidate Survey Responses
RESPONSES TO THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:
1. If elected, what will be your top priorities for public education?
(1) Increase teacher salaries as a starting point to address burnout. (2) Protect working environments, including enforcing class size limits, protect planning periods, and reducing stress to teach to the test. (3) Fund social and emotional learning efforts and either non-profit partners, or social workers, to help identify and address obstacles in students’ lives that hinder their educational progress towards graduation.
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, additional funding is needed. The pandemic has put an incredible strain on our school systems and highlighted the existing inequities. I realize “cutting waste” in the budget sounds like political but it is wasted opportunity that we have not drawn down federal dollars for Medicaid expansion that could free up significant funds for education.
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?
It’s important to realize that our entire health care system is under strain and near the breaking point. Medicaid expansion is critical, bringing billions of federal dollars in to strengthen the system, and allow us to also ensure TRS fulfills its obligations to provide quality health care to active retired teachers.
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 program.
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 believe the primary purpose for standardized tests is as a tool for teachers to assess student progress and address needs. Pressure to teach to the test undermines the educational needs of students and adds to teacher burnout.
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?
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.
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 are students with unique needs and skills, and public charters can play a role in helping school districts meet their mission. Charter schools, however, need to be held to the same accountability standards as all public schools and should not place themselves in a position where they are competing for funds.
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?
We need to respect the authority of local school districts to protect the health of teachers, school personnel, and students.
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 there is no replacement for in-person learning but recognize that virtual education gave teachers and educators the chance to stay connected with as many students as possible during unusual times. I will listen to experts on how technology should be best used in the future, but I would be wary of any demand on teachers to handle in-person and remote learning simultaneously.
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 believe guidelines and standards should be set at the state level, guided by panels of educational experts. I oppose the politicization of this process. I do believe these guidelines should have flexibility at the local level, however, and applaud local efforts to engage input from teachers and parents.
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?
In South Texas, every parent and grandparent teaches their children that education is the key to opportunity. We have fought hard for four-year universities and a medical school. Our economy depends on an educated and skilled workforce, and a strong k-12 education provides the pipeline of talent. That’s why it’s so critical we acknowledge the tremendous strain the pandemic has placed on our education system and address. I believe we need to raise teacher pay to professional levels and protect the working environment of educators. The threat of losing planning time is directly related to the shortage of teachers — from both burnout and illness — and addressing our workforce retention and recruitment needs is the foundation of solving the problem.
Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey
COMMENTS SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:
My grandfather never finished high school, but he started the STARS Scholarship program that has helped put college within reach of over 17,000 local students. I’m proud to help support this program and keep both my grandfather’s dream alive, as well as so many striving students.