Every child and family in California should have the same opportunities and support that I had growing up in Palo Alto. A child’s future must not be determined by their zip code, and parents who work hard should be able to provide a high quality of life for their family.
What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?
1) Bridging the educational achievement and accessibility gap - We must ensure that every child, regardless of the zip code they live in, has: 1) access to high quality preschool and
early learning opportunities; 2) the opportunity to gain Computer Science and IT skills in school; and 3) access to a high quality, affordable public higher education. 2) Housing affordability - Housing prices have skyrocketed and it’s critical that we increase supply, especially of affordable housing. 3) Increasing access to health care services - We must control the rising cost of health care and increase access for low income families.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
Bridging the educational achievement and accessibility gap, investing in affordable housing, and improving access to health care services will all be budgetary priorities of mine. Investing in our children’s future is the best investment we can make and will yield enormous returns through less reliance on social services, a better prepared workforce, fewer people in the criminal justice system, and more tax revenue. I will advocate for fully funding preschool for all four year-olds, increased affordable housing tax credits, and greater subsidies for child care services.
What steps will you take to address the high cost and lack of availability of quality child care and preschool programs in our communities, especially for low-income children and English language learners?
The first step should be recommitting ourselves to the Kindergarten Readiness Act (SB 837). In addition, the first bill I will introduce will be legislation to fully fund high quality universal preschool for all 4-year-olds. Right now, low-income children in Santa Clara County begin kindergarten an average of 18 months behind their more affluent peers. No student should start kindergarten significantly behind their peers, and universal high quality preschool is critical to closing the growing achievement gap in our public schools. My legislation will include adequate investments in teacher recruitment and training, facilities, and programs for English-learners.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
We should give students with different abilities as many opportunities as possible to be present in the classroom setting while at the same time providing the accommodations necessary to advance their learning. We need to recommit ourselves to the mandates laid out in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and make sure parents are familiar
with the services their school can provide. School administrators should be better informed of their responsibilities under the IDEA and school nurses should be trained in how to best help differently abled students.
Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the "opportunity gap" that low-income children and children of color experience, including lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors and enrichment activities. If elected, what steps will you take to address this issue?
A big challenge for many of my constituents is access to healthy food, and access to stable housing. I have authored legislation to ensure students have access to healthy meals at home and in school, and have supported legislation to increase our supply of affordable housing. In addition, there is so much more that the state can do to increase access to high quality early childhood education. I am committed to ensuring that all students begin kindergarten prepared to thrive.