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Texas Rep.’s District 22 candidates debate public education

Two Democratic candidates vying to become the new state representative for District 22 have different ideas about how to approach public education and its funding.

Candidates Christian Manuel Hayes, of Port Arthur, and Joseph Trahan, of Beaumont, included public education among their top three goals, if elected, during a debate Thursday at the Southeast Texas Press meeting. Club.

The two will face off in the May 24 runoff for the Democratic nomination.

Former Jefferson County Democratic Party Chairman Trahan, 25, told the small group of attendees gathered at Bruno’s Italian Kitchen in Beaumont that he supports efforts to increase the base salary of educators and improve standardized tests.


He described the AF grading system as “problematic” and noted that while much public education is funded by property taxes, not all school districts are created equally or necessarily adequately funded.

“I want to make sure that we increase funding not only for teacher salaries, but also for per-student funding, and that we find ways to try not to rely solely on property taxes,” the official said. 25 years old. old said. “But we’re trying to look at other ways to use state revenue to help subsidize public education costs to really try to lower property taxes for many people in the state of Texas. …”

Trahan is the Enrollment Coordinator and Community Liaison Officer for Phalen Leadership Academy. His goals, if elected, also include drainage and health care plans.

Voter’s Guide: Texas Rep. District 22 – Democratic Primary

Hayes is chief of staff to retired Texas District 22 Representative Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont. He cited education as the number one goal. He shared his personal experience as a child with dyslexia and also mentioned having a parent with autism.

“We often talk about school funding, but we’ve never really talked about making sure those resources go into those special education classes, making sure teachers have the proper training they need to be able to inform the parents and then also to make sure that this child is not in pain,” the 36-year-old said.

“I think that’s too often what happens is that we blame the teachers, and we blame the parents without realizing that we’re not giving the teachers or the parents the information or the dollars that the districts need. schools to ensure that this information circulates,” he added.
Hayes also cited creating jobs and expanding flood mitigation among his main goals.

With months to go in what could be the first “normal” school year since the novel coronavirus pandemic, barring a resurgence, candidates were asked to discuss education further with a particular eye on the loss of teachers and the learning gaps.

After listing the American Federation of Teachers among his public supporters and supporters, Trahan noted that one of the union’s biggest concerns is the proliferation of programs and charter schools.

“We have seen an increase in the number of public educators leaving the profession due to lack of pay and lack of support that they believe comes from the state,” Trahan said. “What you can see in the town of Beaumont and the town of Port Arthur is that there are a number of positions that are open at the moment – ​​people are just exhausted, especially since the pandemic .”

Trahan said it was important when crafting solutions to meet with teachers and others familiar with the issue, including those who may have lost faith in representatives from Austin and Washington. DC.

In fact, he’s already heard concerns about increased standardized testing, increased state-level oversight — taking away local oversight — and the inability of educators to feel like they can take their retirement because there hasn’t been a cost of living adjustment for public educators in years.

“You put it all together and it makes a Molotov cocktail of frustration and apathy in the political process,” Trahan said. “For me, I think we need to go back to the community school approach where these kids often struggle with mental illnesses, they live in poverty, they’re raised by their grandparents or their aunts and uncles.”

“And that means making sure that we have the resources, the educational opportunities and the funding available to them for health care, for behavioral issues,” he continued. “And so, make sure that once they’re stabilized, they can effectively learn what they need to learn in order for productive citizens to be productive students to pursue higher education, whether that’s a four-year college degree, a two-year degree program, or a technical trade…”

Representative Deshotel’s Texas House headquarters will see runoff

In response to the same question, Hayes called for a shift from attendance-based funding to enrollment-based funding to give Texas a “real dollar amount” of how many students start the year and how many ‘students there at the end of every day.

He said the approach would provide the opportunity to fund special schools and programs, including technology programs. It also provides data on needed after-school programs because the number of students in the district will be clearer, he said.

“And the good thing is if you end up not needing all that money anymore, it goes back to the state,” Hayes said. So that means when you go back to sign up, you still have it. That’s how we’re able to estimate how many more specialist resource teachers we need, English as a second language teachers we need. It gives us real understanding.

Hayes said the idea came after feedback from education professionals who advocated for the approach and noted that states with such programs have performed better than Texas.

“We are ranked 42nd in education because of the way we fund, we need to change that. We are also changing it by the way we fund education by making sure we have an actual fund that we can take money out of so we don’t always have to fly into one district to add to another “, did he declare.

What’s even more important, he said, is getting teachers to stay. Instead of offering to pay off student loan debt if a teacher stays in an underperforming school district, he suggested offering a teacher, if they stay in the district for 10 years, a $40 incentive. $000 to $50,000.

The incentive would be to stay in the area and be a teacher for another 30 or 40 years by putting that down payment on a house while continuing to have a federal program that pays off student loans.

“It gives us community, it gives students who have teachers who become their children’s teachers, it gives parents the security of knowing that younger students are going to teachers who know them,” Hayes said.

Hayes thinks it’s important to “stop making enemies” of charter schools and public schools. He noted that there were parents in the district who sent their children to charter schools by choice and said it was important not to overlook or compare one or the other.

Deshotel will not run for a 12th term in the legislature

Outside of the topics covered in the debate, Hayes said he’s also looking forward to helping legalize marijuana as another source of revenue to fund education. He is also interested in the use of casino games as a source of funding.

Trahan discussed the importance of civic engagement, including that state officials can do better to engage with voters with more effective ways to communicate what’s happening in Austin.

He mentioned a better social media presence, text messages and emails to help keep residents informed of processes, bills and local impact.

The second-round winner will head to a November showdown with Republican Jacorion Randle.

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