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Pam Baggett
Texas House District 19
Status

Candidate

Party

Democrat

Occupation

Retired, unemployed activist

Address

324 Cypress View, Johnson City, TX, 78636

Additional Information

Endorsed by the editorial board of the Austin American-Statesman in the 2022 general election.

Baggett 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?

Adequate funding for education and for retired teachers.

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?

We can increase the basic allotment using some of the $27 billion surplus we have going into session. We should include a mechanism for increasing the basic allotment to keep up with inflation on an annual basis so staff raises can be maintained. Future revenue sources might include removing certain exemptions on the franchise tax or on the sales tax. The Comptroller maintains a list of exemptions. Debating those exemptions is in order. Health care costs are higher than they would be if we provided basic health care to all rather than relying on emergency care which is much more expensive. Expanding Medicaid is essential for keeping clinics open. In the long run it helps those of us who are insured, too. Right now those of us who are insured are paying higher prices to cover the cost of indigent care. We need to expand Medicaid and increase reimbursement rates to cover the costs.

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?

Health care costs are higher than they would be if we provided basic health care to all rather than relying on emergency care which is much more expensive. Expanding Medicaid is essential for keeping clinics open. In the long run it helps those of us who are insured, too. Right now those of us who are insured are paying higher prices to cover the cost of indigent care. We need to expand Medicaid and increase reimbursement rates to cover the costs.

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 the defined benefit plan is the most secure and reliable retirement plan.

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.?

Standardized testing's major failure is the very fact that it is standardized and does not accommodate the unique, individual testing capabilities of all students. It is unreliable and thereby inappropriate for teacher pay, school accountability ratings, evaluating teachers, measuring student progress, nor any other similar usage.

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

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, plus I believe teachers should be able to create and join a union. I often think this may be the only way to get and maintain legislative attention,

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'm basically opposed to public education $$, our tax $$, going to a for-profit organization. I would like that money to stay in the system and used to expand the variety of teaching style required to meet learning needs of all our Texas children.

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?

They should follow CDC guidelines with no alterations to the safety guidelines. Parents who don't like it can homeschool.

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 can be used for tutoring, to augment homeschooling, and for children unable to attend school due to accident or illness.

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?

It's up to the Stat Board of Education, not local self-anointed "educators" nor teachers who share opinions with those "educators." There does need to be reasonable flexibility based on individual student's needs.

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?

Funding, of course, is the main issue. If Abbott is re-elected, I'd aim to get him to return the $5 billion in federal funds intended for this purpose, but he chose to spend on Operation Lone Star.
 

Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey


COMMENTS SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this questionnaire.