Endorsed in the 2016 Republican 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.
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1. Is there a need to increase funding in order to meet the needs of our growing student population and ensure that students have access to high-quality teachers? If so, how would you recommend securing more revenue for public education?
Funding shortages for low-tax districts can best be achieved using recapture to add to the permanent fund. We should also look at changing the formula to address the needs of these districts.
2. On what types of programs or specific areas of need would you prioritize the spending of state funds for public education?
Increases in funding should be available for not only the maintenance and operational budget, but also I&S areas.
3. Would you vote to create a voucher, tax credit, grant, scholarship program, or any other type of incentive that would help cover the cost for students to attend non-public schools in grades K-12? Why or why not?
No, there are several problematic areas with this issue; specifically, a lack of transparency of expenditures, a lack of accountability and the possibility of misuse of funding.
4. Would you vote to maintain a hard cap on the number of students per class, or should school administrators be given more flexibility to increase class sizes? (Currently, the law imposes a cap of 22:1 in grades K-4 but allows schools to obtain a waiver, a step a number of them routinely take.)
I would generally be supportive of the 22:1 Ratio; however, as noted, there is a need for local discretion. Also, new data relating to learning synergy may need to be accounted for to ensure efficiency when applying this model.
5. What do you feel is the proper role of standardized testing in Texas's public education system? For instance, should tests be used for school accountability purposes, for evaluating teachers, for measuring the progress of students, etc.?
Limited amounts of standardized testing do have a place in schools, but not to the extent of driving curriculum. It's proper place is for measuring student progress.
6. Local decisions on teacher pay and whether to continue a teacher's employment are often based on evaluations. To what extent, if any, should a teacher's evaluation be based on his students' scores on state standardized tests? If you believe student test scores should factor into a teacher's evaluation, how would you recommend evaluating teachers in grades or subjects for which there are no state standardized tests?
Teacher evaluations should not be based on student scores.
7. Do you believe that the state should maintain a floor for classroom teacher salaries that includes annual increases based on experience over the first 20 years of a teacher's career?
Yes, the current salary steps are appropriate in retaining successful professionals and encouraging more young professionals to seek a career in education.
8. If a public school in your district failed to meet state accountability standards, what course of action would you recommend? Are there circumstances in which you would support allowing a private entity to take over the management of that school (for instance, by converting it to a charter school, placing it under a special statewide district for low-performing schools, replacing the elected school board, or hiring an outside entity to operate the school)?
I support the idea of a state monitor or the restructuring of how these schools operate. I do not support the privatization of education.
9. The cost of health insurance for active educators has dramatically increased over the last decade, while the portion paid by the state has remained flat and significantly lagged behind that of private employers. How would you address the increasing cost of covering the education workforce's health insurance needs?
This is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed. I would like to explore the idea of allowing health insurance plans to cross state lines to increase competition and affordability.
10. 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 would you vote to convert TRS to a defined contribution plan that is more like a 401(k), in which future benefits are not guaranteed? Why?
I strongly support the current TRS plan, and would work to protect our commitment to defined benefits and TRS-Care.
We need to strengthen attendance policies, streamline truancy requirements, and look at pilot programs to increase efficacy. Bottom line: If students aren't learning when they don't show up to class. We should maximize community input on educational appointments. We should re-emphasize career and technology programs; also, coordinate with business and industry for mentor programs. Ultimately, we should establish policies that encourage flexibility, innovation and empowerment in pedagogy.
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