As of the time of this column’s submission, March 1, 2022, is scheduled to be the 2022 Texas Primary Election Day. However, litigation regarding the newly drawn political maps may soon be found to affect the actual date. Nevertheless, this primary election cycle amidst a midterm election year will inevitably attract the attention of more than a few voters. With the retirement of our local state Senator, Kel Seliger, citizens residing in Texas Senate District 31 will have to determine who will best represent our sprawling rural district in the Texas Capitol. Prior to the Governor’s signature, the Texas Tribune reported, “The proposed new district removes four counties from the Panhandle and adds a dozen to the southern end of the district, closer to Midland.” Without the return of a relatively consistent public education proponent in the Texas Senate, some of us are rightfully concerned about the future of public education in Texas and our region’s influence in the Texas Legislature. 

Brick & Elm and its contributors neither endorse nor represent the personal views of politicians. However, as an educator, I believe I have an obligation to share what is currently known about the Texas Senate District 31 candidates’ perspectives regarding education. As of my deadline, there have only been four declared candidates for Texas Senate District 31, and they are all running as Republicans. Let us explore the candidates’ education perspectives.

 Information provided on Stormy Bradley’s campaign website states, “We need to invest in vocational education programs, so our graduating high-school seniors are prepared to immediately enter the workforce. For those going on to higher education, we need to keep community colleges and state universities affordable and focused on real skills. We also need to incentivize early reading programs. Reading is the foundational subject that all other learning is based upon.” Mrs. Bradley suggests there are myriad pathways to the workforce that include some form of a post-secondary education. Additionally, Mrs. Bradley appears to acknowledge the importance of balanced literacy. Furthermore, Mrs. Bradley indicates she would seek to monitor the rising costs of tuition at colleges and universities across our state. Nevertheless, voters might be interested in Mrs. Bradley’s views regarding what has become known as Critical Race Theory (CRT). According to her campaign website, “Parents must remain vigilant to make sure the divisive themes of ‘critical race theory’ don’t find their way into our classrooms and curricula. I am all for exploring history, but I feel that the agenda the (CRT) is pushing is to further segregate us instead of blurring the racial lines. We need to strive to promote ONE race, the human race.” Let me please remind you that the academic theory that has now been used as a political football was simply created to expand knowledge of the contributions of people of color toward the success of our beloved nation. The explicit focus on persons of color should be no more controversial than instruction regarding any of our nation’s founding fathers. It simply ensures the contributions of all Americans are reflected when American history is taught within classrooms of schools in states not affected by laws such as Texas House Bill 3979. Refer to my September/October 2021 column if you need to refresh your memory of this ludicrous law. 

Kevin Sparks, also a Texas Senate District 31 candidate, had launched an official campaign website prior to this column’s submission. Unfortunately, Mr. Sparks did not share thoughts related to education on his website.

Tim Reid is also considering a bid for election to the seat being vacated by state Senator Kel Seliger. While there was no active campaign website as of my deadline, a Nov. 24, 2021, article published by ABC 7 Amarillo quoted Mr. Reid stating the following: “Education is the No. 1 job of a state. We have 5.4 million children in Texas public schools who deserve equal opportunity in programs that prepare them for a career or college.” Mr. Reid appears to suggest education is paramount to preparing children for post-secondary opportunities. 

Rounding out this list of declared Republican candidates for Texas Senate District 31 is Jesse Quackenbush. The only statement regarding education on Mr. Quackenbush’s website was about CRT. His website currently states the following: “I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with public school teachers teaching students facts related to slavery and the American Civil War. However, I have a huge problem with teachers going well beyond ‘history’ and adding their subjective opinions relating to racism in America. A very small minority of radicalized, America-hating, socialist teachers
are still ignoring our legislative mandate prohibiting teaching of Critical Race Theory and poisoning our students’ minds with leftist political propaganda.” The views expressed by Mr. Quackenbush are similar to those posited by Mrs. Bradley and do not warrant my personal commentary. Again, I suggest you read my September/October 2021 column for information regarding Texas House Bill 3979. 

As an American citizen, I strongly encourage you to participate in the upcoming primary election. As an educator, I pray all those who share my profession, and every stakeholder will research about our Texas Senate District 31 candidates. In short, get up and go vote. 

Author

  • Patrick Miller is President of the Amarillo Branch NAACP and assistant principal at Eastridge Elementary. In 2021, he completed a 6-year term on the Amarillo College Board of Regents, to which he was elected at the age of 25. He has earned Master’s degrees in both teaching and educational leadership from WTAMU and has served in a variety of leadership roles within the Amarillo Independent School District.