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

Alum Rock Union School District

Ernesto Bejarano, MSW

I pride myself fundamentally on my demonstrated integrity, leadership, and experience. I know that when operating under these values, success is inevitable. My focus is on ensuring that educators have the resources they need, parents are engaged in their children’s education, and children have safe environments in which to learn.

  1. What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?

    Over the entirety of the past 22 years I have worked directly with children and families in Santa Clara County and am familiar with the challenges kids face here. Access to quality education, parental involvement, and child safety are the keys to success in our community. I will address these issues by supporting teachers with the materials and training they need, by making school processes transparent and accessible for parents, and by working with partner agencies to ensure that our children feel physically and emotionally safe and can focus on their learning in the classroom.

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

    As an elected and appointed representative on nonprofit boards and city and county commissions, my approach to budgeting has always been rooted in prioritizing long term needs and sustainability over short term “feel good” expenditures. As a board member, I will make sure that our schools’ finances are built upon a solid foundation of fundamental fiscal principles. When difficult decisions must be made, I will always be driven by what is in the best interest of children and families. All budgets should be completely transparent to the community, who should also have a say in how we invest our dollars.

  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?

    My wife is an Early Education Professional and we had a family daycare facility in our home for many years. I understand the crucial importance of early education and its impact on long term educational outcomes. I will make sure that in the Alum Rock School District, which has a high proportion of low income and English language learners, we continue to provide early education opportunities for the families in our community. I will work to build upon the work that our district has already done to increase early education opportunities for our community.

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

    Children with special needs and disabilities, as well as foster children, have the same rights as any other children, and have the right to resources specific to their needs. I will ensure that educators and other professionals working with these children are properly trained to identify children in these populations and that systems are in place to connect them to services. Additionally, I will support opportunities for these children to participate in activities with all other children in order to create a culture of inclusion within our community. Additionally, I will advocate for behavioral services and counseling for all children.

  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?

    The challenges that present themselves as part of the opportunity gap are broad and wide ranging. It is difficult for any one individual or individual agency, to address them on their own. For this reason, I have always focused my efforts on building relationships and collaborative efforts. When we can leverage the expertise of professionals in our community, we can most efficiently address presenting issues and have the greatest impact on the lives of those that we serve. Having successfully navigated the achievement gap myself, I am confident that I can lead our community in the right direction.