All or nothing: local candidates and the stake they have in Texas public schools


Photo by Robyn Castro

Alex Hanks, Opinion Editor

At this point in the year, we have all affirmed that things are different now. Uncertainty has run the show, and more specifically, our schools. President Trump and his team have emphasized throughout the pandemic the urgency America’s public schools must have to re-open. But ultimately, local candidates hold higher stakes in this regard. They determine the restrictions and protocol that must be followed in classrooms. They are the ones who make the procedures for students to quarantine (or not) following a positive case. Ultimately, they have the lives of innocent students in their hands, and voting for a candidate that doesn’t take that lightly could literally be the difference between life and death. 

While Biden and Trump have been at the top of news pages this entire election, incredibly heated races have been taking place throughout crucial districts in South Texas. Rep. Chip Roy and former state Sen. Wendy Davis has made waves in district TX-21— a district including major parts of Austin, San Antonio and the Hill Country. Their rhetoric surrounding the handling of COVID  in schools has fostered and developed conversations by not only constituents in TX-21, but throughout the country. Although these conversations have spread far, the winner of this district will have a direct impact on education majors looking to teach in the area, and Roadrunners who currently reside in the district.

Incumbent Chip Roy (R) continually touts his opinion on the virus, going on record multiple times claiming that COVID-19 is a ‘Liberal Left’ hoax being perpetuated by mass media and the left. This should worry those working in public schools. Roy’s lack of care toward a virus that has taken the lives of 213,000 Americans and counting will have a catastrophic impact on our classrooms. Pay attention to Roy’s rhetoric, and remember that he will have a say in whether or not a child with a positive case will be permitted to remain in the classrooms— if he is re-elected this November. Texas currently has 7,620 positive cases from students, and 5,527 from Staff — both showing a consistent upward trend every week since the school year began. Not taking action to stop this trend is reckless, and Roy’s rhetoric surrounding the virus has proven that he is unfit to make these tough decisions regarding public schools and COVID. Public health experts have determined that the “herd immunity” Roy touts will cost the lives of an estimated 20,000 Texans.

“It’s about recognizing the reality, whether you’ve got a vaccine or you don’t, that you’ve got to build into our society the ability for us to open up and then build up immunity,” stated Roy in a Sept. 19 interview with the Statesman Editorial Board.

Davis, on the other hand, was at home during the candidates’ televised debate last Wednesday to maintain social distancing efforts. She holds a strong platform on public education, including a proposal that would offer relief to schools who have faced financial hardship due to COVID-19 related expenses. This would allow campuses to have access to proper funding for a safe reopening. Her 2018 run for Texas Governor allowed her to unveil a plan that would funnel $5.4 billion dollars back into schools, the same funding that was cut drastically in the 2011 legislative session. Davis has a proven track record of prioritizing education funding and trusting public health experts when making critical decisions for the public education system. Roy would much rather throw everyone in the fire in hopes of building immunity, failing to consider that in doing so, the lives lost in TX-21 schools will be on his hands. 

This election isn’t just about the presidency. Take the time to learn about local candidates like Chip Roy and Wendy Davis — they hold a stake in this thing too. Don’t leave any stone unturned at the ballot box this fall.