Our education system needs to support the growth of the whole child. I believe every child is different and has different needs and we should try and meet them where they’re at- now more than ever. A healthy child is a well balanced child - mental, physical, emotional, and academic.
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?
1. Social and emotional health: Covid-19 has restricted kids time away from home and important socialization. There is also an alarming number of disturbing violent acts either being seen or discussed around kids. Individual or small group check-ins with school counselors where concerns can be addressed and coping skills can be taught.
2. Distance learning: Schools and teachers need to have flexibility and creativity during distance learning. Schools need to have provided the technology and internet access needed for every child and teachers need to be including parents in planning for their students. There needs to flexibility around expectation based on the the availability of parents and support each student has at home.
3. Student Achievement: Efficient and effective assessment tools that can be used in person and on-line are going to be needed to help children minimize and regain any academic loss they may have suffered during the transition to distance learning.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
The school board and administration needs to be advocating for state and federal money to help cover the extra costs that are incurring during distance learning. Our school district has a budget advisory committee and the school board needs to work with them to make sure that any cuts or changes in expenditures are done collaboratively and transparently. I believe, whenever possible, money should be spent as close to the student and classroom as possible and cuts as far away from students and classrooms as possible.
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 small, rural school district that I am running in has a local preschool and an after school program. Any child who qualifies for free/reduced lunch should also be offered after school care on a sliding scale. The preschool has a small scholarship fund that should be maintained if not expanded.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
One thing I would like to improve is the relationship between our school district and local preschools so that special needs students can be identified and start getting the services they are entitled to earlier. Hopefully this will lead to a smoother transition into Kindergarten. I am heartened by the streamline in special ed funding in the last California budget- we need to continue to advocate for special needs students at the state level.
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?
We need to be taking care of the "whole child". Kids cannot be successful unless they are academically, socially, emotionally, and physically strong. In the Loma Prieta Joint Union School District where I am running for the Governing Board I am supporting a local ballot measure that will help ensure that ALL students have access to co-curricular programs like music, art, independent science lab, health, and other electives. Keeping these programs in the school mean they are not opportunities saved for those with the time and money to pursue them independently. I want to make sure there is no stigma to free lunch and care programs and I will continue to support the scholarship program at our local preschool.