P.O. Box 392 , Euless, TX, 76039
Additional InformationFormer Euless City Council member.
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.
Endorsed by the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News in the 2022 Democratic primary election.
Bhojani 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?
I will push to increase teacher pay, benefits, and TRS. We desperately need representation that honors the work of our public school teachers and staff, and I will stand firmly in support of any legislation that accurately rewards them for the work they do for our collective communities.
I will additionally fight for universal pre-K, additional funding for underserved school districts, and an end to all pass/fail standardized testing in Texas. I hope to be a loud voice for the rights of teachers across District 92.
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?
HB 3 did a lot to improve and enhance public school funding, including a drastic increase to the amount of funding per student in Texas public schools. However, more must and can be done. We need additional increases to teacher compensation, without any ties to merit programs. We are already dealing with a teacher shortage in our state, and that won't improve until compensation matches the new challenges the average teacher faces on a day to day basis.
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?
Medicaid expansion will be one of the first reforms I push for, if elected. We have far too many uninsured and underinsured Texans in the state, and we could easily cover hundreds of thousands of Texans with a Medicaid expansion. We must also seek to protect our teachers, and other public employees, healthcare plans and strengthen their benefits.
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?
It should be a beefed up version of the current plan, with future benefits are guaranteed. Those benefits should be enough for retired teachers to live a good life without financial hardship after years of service to their communities.
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 should not be a factor in teacher pay or evaluations, and it shouldn't be a barrier to graduation for students. Standardized testing can be used as a barometer for a student's progress, in addition to their performance over the course of the academic year, but should never be used as a deciding factor. We are teaching our children to be productive members of society, not the most proficient test-takers.
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. Public funds must remain in public schools, and any type of voucher scheme would only act as a disservice to our public school teachers, and underserved school districts. Additionally, public schools are overseen by the state, and sending that money to independent charter or private schools would remove any such oversight from the equation.
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 firmly support the continued existence of ATPE and other organized labor groups, and I support teachers' right to have dues deducted from their personal paycheck. I am a firm supporter of unions, and will oppose any and all right-to-work legislation that comes before me.
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 believe in the further expansion of independent charter schools in Texas. I see magnate schools within ISDs as potentially beneficial, but only if they receive the same oversight traditional public schools receive. Additionally, I am fully opposed to any and all private voucher scheme that would divert public funds away from 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?
School districts need the leeway and local control necessary to protect their communities from disasters and diseases. Tying their hands to the political whims of Austin politicians only disservices our teachers, parents, and students. We need to trust our local school administrators and trustees to do what is right for their student population.
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 has been of great use during the COVID pandemic, as it has drastically reduced the spread of the diseases, but it shouldn't be seen as a permanent replacement to in-school learning. Students learn best surrounded by other students, and interpersonal and social skills are just as important as anything learned from a textbook. Virtual education is a good tool to be used in conjunction with in-school learning, as an emergency tool, and/or for special circumstances.
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?
We must trust our local school trustees and administrators to take appropriate steps in the creation of curriculum and materials. However, state oversight is necessary, and we should ensure that school districts adhere to a basic set of principles. Within reason, school districts and their representatives should have final say on the specifics and minutiae of day-to-day curriculum.
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?
Increasing teacher pay and benefits is the easiest way to assist with the hiring downturn. We additionally need to ensure that teachers are receiving pay for work done outside the classroom, especially if planning time during school hours is increasingly sacrificed in the post-COVID world.
Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey
No additional comments