P.O. Box 155076, Irving, TX, 75015
First elected to the Texas House in 2018. Current term expires Jan. 2023.
In the 2018 election, she was recommended favorably by Texans for Public Education, a grassroots educators' group that has researched and rated candidates in the 2018 election based on their stances toward public schools.
Endorsed in the 2018 Democratic primary election by the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News.
Endorsed in the 2016, 2018, and 2020 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.
Ran unsuccessfully for the same House seat in 2014 and 2016.
Related Blog Posts
|10/24/2016 Texas parent group announces support for general election candidates|
House Vote #1 - 2021: VOUCHERS
Voted for a budget amendment to prohibit state funds from being spent on private school vouchers. ATPE supported the amendment.
House Floor Amendment #84 by Rep. Abel Herrero (D-Robstown) to Senate Bill 1 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. The House passed the ATPE-supported amendment during its debate on the budget bill, April 22, 2021. (Record vote #410. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)
House Vote #2 - 2021: SPECIAL EDUCATION
Voted for a bill creating the "Supplemental Special Education Services" grant, which allows parents of eligible students in special education to apply for a grant of up to $1,500 for the purchase of supplemental educational services and materials.
Senate Bill 1716 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), sponsored in the House by Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. The bill as passed by the Senate would have created a special education voucher program, which ATPE opposed, but the House removed the voucher language. On May 26, 2021, the House voted to pass its version of the bill on third reading, sending SB 1716 to the governor without objection from ATPE. (Record vote #1516. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)
House Vote #3 - 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.
House Floor Amendment #14 by Rep. Chris Turner (D-Arlington) to House Bill 1525 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingsville), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 21, 2021, the House passed the ATPE-supported amendment during its floor debate on a school finance clean-up bill. (Record vote #387. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)
House Vote #4 - 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 (R-The Woodlands), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 11, 2021, the House voted to pass the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading. (Record vote #982. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) Read more about the bill here.
House Vote #5 - 2021: CIVICS AND CURRICULUM
Was absent for the vote on 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), sponsored in the House by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 87th Legislature, Second Called Session. On Sept. 2, 2021, the House amended and then voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #150. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal). Read more about SB 3 here.
House Vote #6 - 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), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 13, 2021, the House voted to approve the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading. (Record vote #1028. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) The Senate later amended HB 547, 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. On May 28, 2021, the House voted to concur with the Senate amendments to the bill, thereby sending a final version of HB 547 to the governor. (Record vote #1556. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) Read more about the bill here.
House Vote #7 - 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), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 8, 2021, the House voted to approve the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading. (Record vote #913. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) Read more about the bill here.
House Vote #8 - 2021: RETIREMENT
Was absent for the vote on 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), sponsored in the House by Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), 87th Legislature, Second Called Session. On Aug. 30, 2021, the House voted to approve the ATPE-supported bill on third reading. (Record vote #98. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)
House 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), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 28, 2021, the House voted to approve the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading. (Record vote #497. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) The Senate passed an amended version of HB 1468, and the bill was eventually sent to a conference committee to generate a compromise version. HB 1468 ultimately died when the House failed to vote on the conference committee report before the regular session ended.
House Vote #10 - 2021: VIRTUAL SCHOOLS
Was absent for the vote on 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), sponsored in the House by Rep. Keith Bell (R-Forney), 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. 30, 2021, the House voted to pass the bill on third reading. (Record vote #96. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)
House Vote #11 - 2021: ACCOUNTABILITY
Voted for a bill that pauses accountability ratings for the 2021-22 school year, halts progressive sanctions for D- and F-rated schools once they earn a C rating, and clarifies due process protections for districts facing sanctions.
Voted for/Voted against/Was "present not voting" on/Was absent for the vote on a bill that pauses accountability ratings for the 2021-22 school year, halts progressive sanctions for D- and F-rated schools once they earn a C rating, and clarifies due process protections for districts facing sanctions.
House 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), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 28, 2021, the House voted to concur with Senate amendments to the bill, which sent a final version of HB 4545 to the governor. (Record vote #1689. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal). Read more about the bill here.
House Vote #13 - 2021: ACCELERATED INSTRUCTION
Was absent for the vote on a bill that would have eased implementation of HB 4545, passed during the regular session, by limiting the subjects in which tutoring is required for students who failed a STAAR test and offering temporary relief from tutoring group size limits.
House Bill 233 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 87th Legislature, Second Called Session. On Sept. 2, 2021, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #153. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal). The bill ultimately died when the Senate declined to hear it before the end of the session. Read more about the bill here.
(Historical) House 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 April 3, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #159. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)
(Historical) House 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 April 25, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #661. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)
(Historical) House 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 May 22, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #1610. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)
(Historical) House Vote #4 - 2019: SCHOOL SAFETY
Voted for a floor amendment to Senate Bill 11 requiring the state to identify regional resources that schools can use to address students' mental health needs. The amendment was based on Rep. Allison's HB 4414, a bill supported by ATPE.
House Floor Amendment #8 by Rep. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio) to Senate Bill 11 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. During the House floor debate on this school safety bill, Rep. Allison offered Floor Amendment #8 to improve mental health resources in schools. The amendment passed on May 21, 2019. (Record vote #1579. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) Procedural note: This amendment was later reconsidered and amended before being adopted by the House again. (Record vote #1600. View an official record of that subsequent vote in the House journal.)
(Historical) House Vote #5 - 2019: CLASS SIZES
Was marked as absent during the vote on a bill that would have weakened the 22:1 cap on elementary school class sizes. However, in comments entered into the House journal after the vote, Meza indicated that she intended to vote against the bill. ATPE opposed the bill.
House Bill 1133 by Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 9, 2019, the House voted to defeat the bill on second reading. (Record vote #1244. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)
(Historical) House Vote #6 - 2019: EDUCATOR QUALITY
Voted for an ATPE-supported bill that would have funded and strengthened mentoring programs for teachers.
House Bill 102 by Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 9, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #197. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) HB 102 did not get heard by the Senate, but its language was incorporated into HB 3 that did pass and become law.
(Historical) House Vote #7 - 2019: EDUCATOR QUALITY
Voted for a bill to require certain school districts to assign properly certified teachers to students in elementary grades and prevent students from being taught by first-year teachers in consecutive years. HB 1276 would have applied to school districts with at least 5,000 students, unless the district was exempted under the District of Innovation (DOI) law or received a hardship waiver from the commissioner of education. The bill was designed to prevent students from being assigned for two consecutive school years to teachers with less than one year of experience or teachers not certified in the subject being taught as part of the foundation curriculum. Exceptions were provided for new transfer students and students whose parent or guardian consents to the placement. ATPE supported the bill.
House Bill 1276 by Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 25, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #746. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) The bill ultimately died after it did not get heard in the Senate.
(Historical) House Vote #8 - 2019: CHARTER SCHOOLS
Voted for a floor amendment to House Bill 3 to increase the transparency and efficiency of charter schools by requiring them to undergo an audit of their fiscal management prior to expanding or opening new campuses and to share the audit results on their website. ATPE supported the amendment.
House Floor Amendment #15 by Rep. Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd) to House Bill 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. During the House floor debate on the school finance bill, Rep. Bailes offered Floor Amendment #15 on charter school transparency and efficiency. The amendment passed on April 3, 2019. (Record vote #153. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) The Senate later stripped the amendment out of the bill.
(Historical) House Vote #9 - 2019: POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT
Voted against a bill that would 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 May 20, 2019, the House voted to defeat the bill on third reading. (Record vote #1519. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)
Candidate Survey Responses
HAS NOT RESPONDED TO THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY.
Did not respond to the 2020 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?
My top priorities for public education include helping our neighborhood schools by reducing the unfair standardized tests, meddlesome state regulations, and by increasing community involvement and local control. I support legislation restoring public education funding in Texas.
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?
The over $5 billion removed from public education funding in 2011 has yet to be restored. This means that our public schools are functioning at levels below 2011 funding as we enter the 2019 legislative session. Meanwhile, this does not take into account inflation and increased student enrollment. Without a Supreme Court ruling that our system of funding schools is unconstitutional, it is unlikely that the legislature will act on the issue, even though the state is not spending enough money on schools. Like many in the legislature, I would like to see the finance system improved. The legislature should examine the impact of a provision that has allocated money to school districts to help offset mandated property tax cuts. It should also examine the use of local property taxes to fund public education and its effects on educational quality and on Texas taxpayers. The legislature should heed the call to action. Texas should not settle for just "adequate".
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?
Texas teacher salaries continue to rank well below those in every other large, populous state, with an average salary roughly $6,300 below the national average. Almost half of Texas teachers have to take a second job to make ends meet. Half of all new teachers leave the profession within five years, and teacher turnover itself is extremely costly. Additionally, the cost of health insurance is eating away at any salary increases teacher now receive. The state contribution for teacher health insurance ($75 per month) has not increased one penny since the program was initiated in 2002, forcing employees and local districts to bear the burden of skyrocketing health care costs. I would work to insure that funding levels and structural changes do not deny healthcare for retired teachers. Working together with other legislators, I would advocate that public school employees be provided the same level of contribution and should be eligible for the same COLA/increase as other state employees and higher education employees.
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?
Retired teachers spent a career working long hours for lower pay than most professionals and their retirement fund is a well earned reward. In Texas, 90% of teachers do not have Social Security, making their teacher retirement check their only certain retirement income. The Pension Trust Fund of the Teachers Retirement System is a solid defined benefit plan, but in recent years, certain groups have coordinated attacks on defined benefit pension plans to encourage lawmakers to change these plans to defined contribution plans, which are more costly to deliver. Legislation has been proposed to eliminate state and local government defined benefit retirement plans and provide "hybrid" plans or only 401(k)-type retirement accounts. Switching to a defined contribution plan would require each individual to bear investment risks alone, removing the security provided to retirees by the Teacher Retirement Fund. I would oppose legislation that attempts to convert the teacher Retirement System Pension Trust Fund of TRS from a defined benefit to a hybrid plan or a defined contribution plan. In 2013, the legislature provided funds to give about two-thirds of all retired teachers a 3% cost of living increase, the only COLA for retired teachers since 2001. Teachers who most recently retired did not receive a COLA. I would support and work to enact legislation that provides a cost of living increase for all retirees.
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.?
I support and believe in the need for some standardized testing. Scores show that it is working in that more kids are going to college, more are trying, and we are closing the achievement gap. Plus, federal dollars require testing. Given the Pearson scandal with the state auditor's office and Rep. Aycock of the House Public Education Committee's desire to return control to local school districts, the next session will have to reconcile the state's concerns with the federal government's continued support for No Child Left Behind legislation. The reduction in the number of standardized tests is an improvement. I will be open to hearing educators' suggestions, and others, on how we can provide an appropriate level of accountability without an over-dependence on standard test results. To me, as teachers, we use a combination of activities to evaluate students' performance in our classrooms, not just exam scores. Could not the same concept of a combination of factors, in addition to the standardized tests scores, be used to evaluate our teachers and our schools?
6. Would you support a state-funded across-the-board pay raise for all Texas classroom teachers?
Yes, I would support efforts to redirect the money allocated for incentive rewards based on test scores to an increase in teacher salaries across the board.
7. To what extent should student performance determine teacher pay?
While I support some method of rewarding exceptional performance, there are several problems with incentive pay based on student performance on a single standardized test. The link between student scores and teacher performance is sure to be an issue in the next session. Assessments are critical tools to guide teachers in improving their lesson plans and framing their instruction to meet the needs of individual students. I support accountability. But standardized assessments are misused when teachers are fired, schools are closed and students are penalized based on a single set of scores. Excessive high stakes testing takes away valuable instructional time and narrows the curriculum, with the greatest impact on our most vulnerable students. Accountability will continue to be an issue in Texas.
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?
Not only do I commit to opposing efforts to provide state assistance for private education but I have a demonstrated track record of opposition to private school vouchers. Around 20 years ago, while I was serving on the LULAC Texas State Board, the State Director brought in a state representative from South Texas who advocated for vouchers on the grounds that minority students are trapped in under-performing schools. Swayed by the Hispanic Representative, the majority of the Board voted to support vouchers. Rene Lara and I took a resolution to the State General Assembly during the State Convention a month later and successfully overturned the vote of the State Board, instead LULAC Texas would oppose vouchers which undermine the funding of our public schools. Our effort was recognized in an article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, and probably other state newspapers. My son was a LULAC Youth Leader around 15 years ago and invited then State Rep. Kent Grusendorf to a LULAC Youth Meeting. The students voiced their objections to vouchers and their concerns that his efforts in Public School Finance were actually jeopardizing funding of their schools. Together with my son, we led a Youth State Board Lobby Day so that legislators could have the opportunity to actually hear from students about the impact of their decisions. I was most impressed by then State Rep. Dora Olivo who listened attentively and then told the students that she supported their platform, and then asked the students to support hers, taking time with them to explain educational issues she was working on. Later, at her invitation, my son and I returned to the Capitol to attend an educational summit she hosted. As we know, vouchers will not provide "school choice" for all students. They will only serve to weaken public schools and sacrifice equity. I oppose the privatization of public education, including full-time, privately-operated "virtual schools". Schools are community institutions, as well as centers of learning. While education alone cannot eradicate poverty, schools can help to coordinate the support and services their students and families need to thrive. Corporate reform strategies ignore the challenges that students bring with them to school each day and view schools as separate and autonomous from their communities. This does not mean that I oppose the use of online learning within the public schools. Not all students learn the same way, and as teachers, we must be open to using a variety of methods to meet the variety of learning styles in our students. This means while computers can help, other methods are also needed to reach students. Special education is one of the best examples for why vouchers should be opposed and charter schools should be more closely regulated, because they do not meet the same standards and protections that public schools must meet. As an attorney in private practice, I regularly have the opportunity to represent a Proposed Ward through Probate Court appointments as an Attorney Ad Litem. The parents request to become Legal Guardian of their now adult child, so that they can continue to care for them. Our local public schools accept these students up to the age of 23. The parents appreciate the public school's work with their children. While special education may be the best example, it is certainly not the only example of how our public schools meet the learning needs of a variety of students who come with a variety of learning and physical disabilities. Public schools work daily to meet the needs of all students. Charter schools do not.
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?
In the 2015 and 2017 Legislative Session as well the Governors call for the 2017 Special Session, special interest groups pushed multiple pieces of legislation, to prohibit public employees from contributing to employee associations of their choosing through payroll deduction. This was a blatant and direct attack on employees' rights to organize, make their voices heard, and their economic freedom. Employee associations for public employees in Texas is completely voluntary, as is the decision to pay dues through payroll deduction. Payroll deduction is also available to public employees for other reasons such as charitable contributions and insurance payments. There is no cost to tax payers to deduct dues from payroll checks. I support letting all public employees use payroll deduction for their membership dues.
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?
Yes, I favor limits on class size and limits on waivers. I've spoken to the superintendent of the Irving ISD on this matter to try to understand his support for waivers. As recently as October 23, 2017, the agenda of the Irving ISD School Board included consideration of waivers for class size. I attended and stated my position on the issue which was to maintain small class sizes and to avoid the use of waivers as much as possible. Unfortunately, the board voted in favor of waivers. I also oppose reducing certification standards. As the director of an alternative education program, I hired only certified teachers even though the contract with the Fort Worth ISD did not require it. I did this because I believe that it is important for all students to have access to a quality education. Every student deserves to have a teacher who is passionate about teaching that subject and grade level. There are many ways for school districts to address the shortage including alternative certification programs, H1B visas to recruit bilingual teachers, involving teachers in recruitment efforts. Teaching is a career. Our teachers should be well-trained and supported. They should be given the opportunity to assume leadership roles in their schools. Highly qualified teachers and school staff are our schools' greatest asset.
Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey
No additional comments