Parents are the most important teachers in our students' lives. We need elected officials that understand that, honor that, and prioritize that when it comes to making decisions for ALL students. As a teacher and court-appointed mentor for youth in juvenile justice, I will bring that to the forefront always.
What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?
First would be rising housing costs, as it affects teacher retention rates in our local school districts. I will advocate and work with city and county officials to create teacher housing opportunities so as to combat the rising housing costs pushing teachers out and keep our them here so they can teach our students longer. We must also address school safety as well as our mediocre test scores on math and English Language arts. I will work to explore the best math and ELA curriculum and teacher training, and expand anti-bullying programs.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
I will focus our resources on strengthening our STEM programs by integrating subjects such as economics, business, coding and other STEM curriculum. I will also make sure that parents, families, students and teachers are included in the budget advisory committees from the beginning of the school year and that we move away from rubber-stamping decision-making towards critical budgetary assessments and evaluations from the school board level. I will also make sure that our budget prioritizes innovative curricular and educational programs so we can increase our test scores and attract students back to our district.
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 will make sure that our financial resources prioritize these types of programs for our low-income families and families that have students learning English. We will create low-cost or free space availability and priority for these students with the afterschool programs and TK/preschool programs we already have or give grants to help them.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
I will work with our SPED departments to shift our district policy to be as inclusive as possible and critically analyze each IEP to see how we can make sure their services are also as inclusive as possible. I will also make sure that our SPED teachers and general education teachers are trained in co-teaching so that SPED and GE teachers can collaborate more effectively and structurally in and out of the classroom.
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 district should be formed not as a business but as a community center. We must create city and county partnerships to provide resources to our families of color and low-income families, such as immigration services, food procurement, and social services navigation. We must also invest in afterschool programs that are affordable or free for them to address the achievement gap. In the classroom, we must invest in the best math and ELA programs so that they are not left behind, stronger STEM programs and we must make sure that our curriculum reflects them and their histories to increase engagement.