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Nathan Johnson
Texas Senate District 16
Status

incumbent

Party

Democrat

Occupation

Attorney

Address

12770 Coit Road, Suite 1100, Dallas, TX, 75251

Additional Information

First elected to the Texas Senate in 2018. Current term expires Jan. 2023.

In the 2018 election, Johnson was recommended favorably by Texans for Public Education, a grassroots educators' group that researched and rated candidates in the 2018 election based on their stances toward public schools.

John was endorsed in the 2018 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.

He was also endorsed in the 2018 Democratic primary election by the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News.


  • 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

    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

    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 for 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.

Candidate Survey Responses


Has not responded to the 2022 ATPE Candidate Survey.

Below are the candidate's responses to the 2018 ATPE Candidate Survey:

 

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

- Increase per-pupil allotment
- Block private school vouchers
- Updating WADA (moving toward equity rather than equality)
- Provide incentive for teachers to work in low performing schools
- Respect local ISD authority and foster innovation
- Reduce weight of standardized testing and factor in other measures, including attendance, graduation, psychological wellness
- Ensure careful regulation of charter schools and use them to as innovation laboratories, not replacements for public schools
 
2. Is there a need to increase state funding to meet the needs of our student population? If so, how would you recommend securing more revenue for public education?

Texas does not spend enough on public education. Nationally, Texas ranks deplorably low in per-pupil spending. We must raise the basic per-pupil allotment. There is broad consensus on this point. At the same time, individuals and businesses are overburdened by property taxes and the "Robin Hood" property tax system. Tax relief and increased school funding turn on the same action: a commitment by the state to supply general revenue at historic ratios – in the vicinity of 50% of the education budget.



Such a commitment would permit districts to invest in long-term projects like opening pre-K centers and program-specific teacher training. In the 84th session, pre-K was funded through a grant program, and then cut to $0 in the 85th session. School districts can't build programs in the face of such financial uncertainty. Additional changes might include: incentives that emphasize college-readiness and not merely graduation; increased autonomy for school districts with respect to allocation of funds, enabling them to develop the most effective ways of teaching their respective student populations; early education programs; recruiting, retaining, and continuing education for teachers; and re-calibrating how relative wealth among districts is determined.
 
3.      Healthcare costs for educators have increased dramatically and outpaced the state's contributions, with many current and retired educators now paying more out of pocket than their counterparts in other states or in other professions. As a legislator, how would you address this crisis to ensure that active and retired educators have access to affordable healthcare?



In order the get a sensible solution for this problem passed through the Legislature we must address the problem of rising health care costs generally – expanding Medicaid would be a good start. Secondly, health benefits will have to be increased. We'll also need a one-time cash infusion to the Texas state teachers retirement system, paired with structural changes that ensure long-term sustainability while keeping our commitment to active and retired teachers. This is an appropriate use of the current largess in the Rainy Day Fund.
 
 
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?



Maintain as a defined benefit plan.  
 
 
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.?



The parents, teachers, and education experts I've consulted agree that there is a useful but limited role for some standardized testing for these purposes, but the current level is excessive and is overweighed at the expense of other important factors. The evaluation process should be overhauled, with more attention to student progress well-being, and to a teacher's success in reaching their particular students in ways not measurable by the standard (for-profit) standardized testing.
 
6.      Would you support a state-funded across-the-board pay raise for all Texas classroom teachers?



Yes.
 
7.      To what extent should student performance determine teacher pay?



Student performance should play a role in determining the quality of our teachers, but in terms of pay I believe it should be used as only part of a equation that takes into account many other factors.
 
8.      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.
 
9.      State law allows educators and other public employees to voluntarily choose to join professional associations like ATPE and have membership dues deducted from their paychecks at no cost to taxpayers. Do you support or oppose letting all public employees use payroll deduction for their membership dues?



Support. The attack on payroll dues deduction has no legitimate purpose.
 
10.  Current law allows school districts with accountability ratings of "C" or better to become Districts of Innovation (DOIs) and exempt themselves from many state statutes, such as elementary school class-size limits, requirements for hiring certified teachers, and more. Would you recommend any changes to the criteria for becoming a DOI? Would you place any limitations on the state laws that can be waived by DOIs?



While I favor some independence and autonomy for ISDs to address their populations in ways they determine to be most effect, an outright exemption strikes me as potentially reckless. I might prefer instead a "loosening" of the margins, e.g., permit a percentage variance with respect to class, budget allocation, etc. That way students are not subject to the risks of drastic gambles, but educators have the latitude to bring about new and better ways to prepare students for their future. This, however, is an area where I'll need to become better informed, in order to make sound judgments.

 

Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey


No additional comments