I have had the opportunity to interact with Linda Chavez-Thompson twice within the past month. The first time at Netroots Nation in Las Vegas a few weeks ago and then again last week on a blogger call. Between now and the November elections, I will periodically feature some Latino candidates or other candidates running for office in areas with high Latino populations so we can learn more about where they stand on a variety of issues.
Linda Chavez-Thompson is challenging the establishment in Texas and certainly has her worked carved out for her as the underdog. However, she has a compelling story, a young team working to elect her, and a firm desire to make the state government in the Lone Star state more reflective and representative of the people living there.
The lieutenant governor’s race in Texas is important for a variety of reasons. In Texas, the lieutenant governor sets the agenda and names the committees for the state senate.
In Texas, one in three students leave high school without earning a diploma. Chavez-Thompson plans to address this dismal dropout rate by focusing on expanded pre-school, increasing parental participation in the schools, and restoring a curriculum that is not purely test based.
Chavez-Thompson is also bothered by the “Texas textbook massacre” where key historical figures like Thomas Jefferson, Thurgood Marshall, and even the Tejanos who died at the Alamo have been minimized or taken out of the new curriculum standards. Essentially, the curriculum in Texas has been censored and slanted. Chavez-Thompson has mentioned the idea of not funding the purchase of textbooks that erase classes of people and “unsavory” events from history as one possible solution to this problem, but she also admits that there needs to be changes in the state board of education.
Also worth noting is Chavez-Thompson’s support for comprehensive sex education in Texas. The teen pregnancy ranking in Texas is the fourth highest in the country, and even with the dismal numbers, the establishment leadership continues to promote abstinence education.
Chavez-Thompson also supports immigrant issues, including the DREAM Act and even worked within the AFL-CIO, where she served as the executive vice president, to make the unions more supportive of comprehensive immigration reform. She also acknowledged that the state GOP platform on immigration, which has become “tougher” is not what major GOP donors support. And this is mainly because business owners want the low wage labor.
If you want to learn more about Linda Chavez-Thompson, I encourage you to check out her keynote address that she delivered at Netroots Nation (posted below) and to browse her website. She is plainly the outsider taking on the establishment. She’s not rich, isn’t backed by the oil industry, but she has some common sense ideas about how to make the state government in Texas reflective of and responsive to the people living there.
Note: Part II of this speech on youtube is the same as this one.