Santa Clara County Voter's Guide On Children's Issues

California State Senate, District 17

John Laird

I have long been committed to services and efforts for children. I was a leader for universal children's health in my first legislative service - and whether it's health care, child care, K-12 education or bridging the digital divide - I want to continue that work.

  1. Taking into consideration the profound impact of COVID-19 and the expanded movement for racial justice and equity, what do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?

    I think there are many competing issues affecting our children and families in these difficult times, and it difficult to set dividing line to choose just three. Three key issues are bridging the digital divide during COVID, making sure that safe health practices are followed in any return to in-person education (which sometimes cost more at a time of declining revenues), and working to protect child care resources as the economy comes back.

  2. How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?

    I was Assembly Budget Chair in my first tour in the State Legislature. In that service, I worked to take my commitment to children to stretch tight dollars as best as possible to meet policy goals. Now, with the current economic crisis, in California we are back to where we were during my prior service. I will strive to take my commitment to services for children and make sure we can get resources to support them. The answer to every question in this survey creates the need for adequate financial support - and in these difficult times, we will have to do our best to get resources to each of these identified needs.

  3. 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 am a former head of our local child care council. There continue to be big challenges - in adequate child care resources, adequate financial support, and relevant child care for disadvantaged communities. This was a big challenge before the economic downturn, and will be an even bigger challenge now. I want to work toward meeting those goals.

  4. What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?

    I support efforts for inclusion of children with special needs or with disabilities in our school system. This has been in direct competition to basic K-12 funding for many years, and I will hope to work to ease that competition.

  5. 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?

    I am coming off two years as chair of our local food bank's holiday food drive, which has brought me into direct contact with the "opportunity gap" referenced in the question. Access to food and other wrap-around services are as important to education effectiveness as basic K-12 education. However, in our current budget environment, they will all compete against each other. I would work to try to protect each of these basic services in budget deliberations.