San Jose should be the best place in the country for a kid to grow up, regardless of their family's income level. I'm continually driven by my experience as a former middle school teacher in East San Jose. Our city government can do more to expand opportunities for our children.
What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?
1) School systems that serve students differently depending on their family's income level and background 2) The housing crisis driving families out of the valley 3) A lack of universal early childhood education options for families How to address them: These are all very solvable problems and there's political will to get things done, but it takes breaking down silos, building coalitions, and ending partisan bickering. Only then can we actually push out strategic, comprehensive plans.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
Driving real change for kids costs money and requires our leaders to take a hard look at restructuring the budget to drive different results. Spending money on kids is clearly the smart long-term investment and can save us money in the long run. I'll be a tireless advocate for kids.
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?
I'm in strong favor of universal early childhood education and programming for families covering kids ages 0-5. While we may need to wait for the state to get their act together before we can achieve that vision, there are bits and pieces we can tackle locally in the meantime.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
This is another area where partnering with local school districts is crucial. California's funding models for students with special needs is broken and many districts are struggling to keep up. San Jose has a responsibility to partner with all our districts to help where we can, and also to use our position as the 3rd biggest city in California to lobby for change at the state level. We can also lead by ensuring that adults with special needs have the opportunities they deserve.
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?
The city needs to build strong partnerships with the 19+ school districts serving kids in San Jose and help raise the expectations around how we serve students battling poverty and kids from historically underserved backgrounds. We shouldn't wade into the politics of running a district, but can help compliment the good work districts are already doing through after-school programs, summer enrichments, etc. There's no reason every student graduating high school in San Jose can't be ready to launch into adulthood with all the options on the table. Our city can be a connector and help make that happen.