Elections 2022State HouseGOP Candidates in North Texas House District Discuss School Choice, Public Education

Republican candidates to replace Rep. Matt Krause answered questions about public education, standardized testing, and school choice at a candidate forum.
February 10, 2022
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Three Republican primary candidates for Texas House District 93 answered questions related to education at a forum hosted by Raise Your Hand Texas and the North Texas Commission on February 9.

Laura Hill, Cary Moon, and Nate Schatzline are vying to replace Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), who is running for Tarrant County District Attorney. 

The district covers parts of Arlington, Fort Worth, and other surrounding cities. It encompasses parts of several school districts including Fort Worth ISD, Northwest ISD, Keller ISD, and Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD. 

Candidates were asked about issues like the COVID-19 response and its impact on students, standardized testing, teacher salaries, and school choice. The candidates agreed on many items, with a few notable differences particularly about support of vouchers.

Hill, who previously served as mayor of Southlake which is in House District 98, touted her experience as a local official in her opening statement. She said the election is “about the future” and that she supports public schools with two of her three children having been educated in the public school system.

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She referred to several student organizations she helped start including SPARK — Students and Parents Against Risks to Our Kids. This organization has hosted over 50 programs on “tough topics” including eating disorders, drug abuse, and other societal problems.

Hill said she was proud of starting Southlake Kids in Leadership (SKIL), a program coordinated between Carroll ISD, Southlake Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Southlake to teach juniors in high school how they can make a meaningful change in their community. The program is not open to students in private school or home school.

Although it wasn’t mentioned at the forum, Hill has been the subject of a complaint by the other candidates who say she isn’t a resident of the district, though she claims she is. She and her husband, Joe McSweeney, own a home valued at over $1 million in Southlake, which also has a homestead exemption according to the Tarrant Appraisal District records. Only a homeowner’s principal residence can qualify for a homestead exemption, the Texas Comptroller’s website states.

Moon, who has served on the Fort Worth City council for seven years, opened his remarks by mentioning that he has lived in the district for 20 years and has a long-term commitment to the area. 

“Experience is what sets me apart,” Moon said.

He touted his experience working with area school districts to get block grants for after-school and summer reading programs. He also said he understands the property tax challenges faced by homeowners.

Moon was arrested in October 2020 for driving while intoxicated. In November 2021, he was accused of violating the terms of his probation. 

Schatzline pointed out that he is the only candidate in the race with experience working in education. He said he has worked as a college professor of economics, coached football, and has helped start mentorship programs in area schools. 

Currently, he serves as the director of operations for The Justice Reform, an anti-human trafficking organization. 

Schatzline has been endorsed by the Tarrant Republican Club PAC, the Keller Republican Club, and Texas Values.

The candidates were asked a series of questions about education issues starting with how the state can play a role in meeting the challenges of learning losses due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

Hill used her time as an opportunity to mention that teachers need an increase in salary, noting that teacher shortages and difficulty in retaining teachers may be due to salary issues.

“The state can incentivize teachers, especially in rural areas,” Hill noted.

Moon began by stating that he thought the COVID-19 pandemic raised alarms about government overreach and the erosion of civil liberties. He also said that reading curriculum must be prioritized over some “social learning.” 

Schatzline said he was one of the educators forced to go “virtual” in 2020 and it was challenging to keep students engaged. 

“Virtual is not evil, but it can only be a supplement,” he added. “Students need to have healthy interactions and that can only happen in-person.”

All of the candidates agreed that teachers are not paid enough.  

Moon said he is able to work on budgeting and operating efficiencies to find funding for teacher salaries and benefits. 

Schatzline said he would use the Texas surplus fund to help take some of the weight off of local school district debt so they can increase pay.

Hill mentioned the Teacher Incentive Allotment passed during the last legislative session as a good development but said the legislature can do more.  

“Teachers need to be lifted up,” she said. 

Standardized testing was a matter of discussion at the forum and all the candidates agreed that the STAAR should not be a one-size-fits-all evaluation tool. Additionally, all mentioned that parents should have a say in their children’s education. 

The biggest differences arose when school choice and vouchers were raised.

Moon said he supports vouchers with accountability standards where parents have no choice of a good public school. “Parents need options,” he said. He emphasized that low-performing schools must be held accountable. 

Schatzline also supports vouchers and said he has been endorsed by the Texas Home School Coalition for that position. He said vouchers should come with accountability, but that local public schools need accountability too. 

“Parents should always have the final say in their child’s education,” he added.

Hill emphasized that the first priority must be to public schools. “That is our promise to parents,” she said.

Hill has “no issue with in-district charter or magnet schools” as long as they are held to the same standards as public schools and are not operated for profit. 

She added that she is open to some kind of tax break if parents are in a situation, like a need for special education, where the child can not be educated in the public school system. Hill said she had one child with special needs who attended private school.

Early voting begins February 14 and election day is March 1. 

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.