Even with out-of-state billionaires spending millions to try to privatize public education and influence primaries, pro-educator candidates scored amazing victories in Tuesday’s elections. Texas AFT members turned out for endorsed candidates despite an onslaught of attacks from some state officials while educators are under enormous strain from low wages, an overwhelming workload, and unsafe conditions in the pandemic.
Here are the highlights:
- Houston Federation of Teachers member and Teacher of the Year candidate, Coretta Mallet-Fontenot, finished in first place in her race for State Board of Education (SBOE) in Houston and will next head to a runoff.
- Paraprofessional Laura Marquez will head to a runoff in El Paso for SBOE after handily defeating charter-backed candidate Omar Yanar.
- Cy-Fair AFT educator Diana Martinez Alexander moves on to a runoff for her party’s nomination in Houston for the new 38th Congressional District.
- Alliance AFT social studies teacher Chris Leal fell just short of a runoff in Dallas.
- Aldine AFT President Candis Houston came within 136 votes of unseating a 37-year incumbent in a valiant effort to demand respect for Houston educators.
“Our members are more than just fed up,” said Texas AFT President Zeph Capo. “Some were ready to step up for the profession they love and run for office. We won some and lost some, but under the banner of ‘Respect Us and Elect Us,’ these educators realized that they need to play a role in the leadership and policy decisions affecting our schools. I am so proud of their work and effort. I hope this sends a message to all candidates and elected officials that educators will be respected or we will take matters into our own hands.”
Other great educator victories included:
- Rep. Alma Allen, a long-time public education champion, won her primary in Houston.
- Rep. Mary Gonzalez, fierce public education and educator proponent, won her primary in El Paso.
- Rep. Erin Zwiener, another key educator advocate, won her primary in Central Texas.
- Rep. Ernest Bailes, a conservative proponent of rural public schools, won his primary in Central Texas.
- SBOE member Rebecca Bell-Metereau defeated a charter-backed opponent to retain her seat on the State Board of Education.
- Ruben Cortez, a powerful voice for educators and charter school oversight and accountability on the State Board of Education, moved on to a runoff in his race for State House.
- Erin Gamez, the first woman to serve the Rio Grande Valley in a decade, will be a new voice representing educators in Austin.
- Lulu Flores, succeeding community schools champion Rep. Eddie Rodriguez in Austin, will take up his mantle of supporting educators in the Legislature.
- Salman Bhojani, the first Pakistani-American to serve in the Legislature, will be a welcome voice for educators in Tarrant County.
- Joseph Trahan, a strong voice for educators and labor, moves on to a runoff to succeed Rep. Joe Deshotel in Beaumont.