Now that it is time to face the voters, State Rep. Stefani Carter of Dallas is stumbling all over herself trying to hide her anti-public education voting record during last year’s legislative sessions. On her campaign website, she portrays herself as a champion of the public schools by claiming votes against bad old bills, but voters of Texas House District 102 beware!
You won’t find this information on her website, but Rep. Carter voted for the worst, anti-school bill of the year. That was HB1, the budget, passed in May 2011 during the regular session, which slashed $5.4 billion from public education and, with it, 25,000 school jobs — so far. That bill failed to pay for school enrollment growth, cut funding for pre-kindergarten and other dropout prevention programs, resulted in thousands of overcrowded classrooms and led to the closure of neighborhood schools, including several in Dallas.
Seeking political cover, Carter now brags about voting during the special session in June 2011 against HB1, which, she says, was a “budget bill enacting cuts to public education.” Actually, the bill she voted against during the special session was SB1, but by then the damage had been done because Carter already had voted FOR HB1 a few weeks earlier.
SB1 merely distributed among school districts the $5.4 billion in cuts that Carter already had endorsed. She could have voted against SB1 a dozen times without undoing any of the damage she had already helped inflict. This is kind of like freeing all the horses from the barn, then closing the door and yelling for help. Yes, that’s a cliché, but Carter’s effort to redeem herself is misleading and weak.
Carter, on her website, also claims to have voted against HB400, a bill that would have raised class sizes in kindergarten through fourth grade. Actually, that bill died without ever coming to a final vote in the House. But classes swelled anyway, thanks to the budget cuts. Carter and her legislative allies merely passed the dirty work to the state education commissioner, who granted a record number of waivers allowing more than 8,400 elementary classes to be larger than the 22-student limit, which has been state law since 1984.
During the special session, Carter voted against SB8, a bill weakening teacher employment rights. Teachers appreciate that vote, but it did not undo her vote for the budget cuts that have cost thousands of educators their jobs.
“Concerned about public education?” Carter asks on her website.
The Texas State Teachers Association certainly is, and that is why we are supporting her Democratic opponent, Rich Hancock, in District 102.