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

Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District

Phil Faillace

To have ALL students leave MVLA having learned to be as intellectually, emotionally, and physically robust as they can possibly be, by improving inclusivity & academic achievement, mental health, social skills, physical education opportunities, family involvement, and respect for ethno-cultural & gender identities; and by eliminating racism

  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?

    Surviving the pandemic unscathed
    Being gainfully employed/equitably educated
    Not being isolated

    I’ll rely only on scientific advice to keep everyone safe. For remote learning, we should train teachers on how to check during synchronous classes for symptoms of deteriorating mental health or disengagement. Then rapid follow-up should include a talk with parents about the advisability of an interview with a CHAC counselor for a more thorough assessment, to nip problems in the bud.

    For learning on campus, recommendations and equipment that best protect health should be our rules and equipment; rules should be enforced for all, and everyone should use the equipment, including masks and face shields. Testing and contact tracing should be routine. Parents should choose: distance learning or hybrid.

    MVLA has work for all employees to keep them employed. Students needing food or equipment will get it. Special programs will promote online socializing and fun, with some on campus activities.

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

    Safety is the budget’s highest priority. Money needed to ensure it for all will be allocated. Extra training and more mental health counseling will be funded. Additional support, both academic and psychological, will also be provided to relieve stress on students and employees.

    Money will be spent for disadvantaged students to have Chromebooks and Internet service powerful enough for full, uninterrupted access to remote learning, so they can more easily engage in online activities. Funding to provide free meals and services for students and their family members who need them will continue. A social worker to find help for students who are homeless or have struggling parents will be hired.

  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?

    High school students having to care for younger siblings while parents work can’t fully engage in remote learning, so they need child care.

    In full remote learning, on campus space is available for volunteers to provide child care, and one of my supporters has organized a pool of parent volunteers having various skills, many of which are in child care. Child care pods, each with two adults and a small number of children, all of whom would be the same ones daily, could be set up on campus with all safety measures in place.

    Unfortunately, with hybrid learning in full effect, campus space will not be available, so the community would need to find other Covid-19-safe locations for the pods.

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

    Generally, these students are most likely to suffer more severe learning loss from Covid-19 restrictions. However, depending on their needs or disabilities, many of them can—with extra support from Special Ed. experts—be included in remote and hybrid learning, and enjoy improved outcomes. I will advocate providing that extra support.

    For students with other special needs or disabilities, Covid-19 is more challenging. Keeping them in remote learning seems incompatible with improved outcomes or making them feel included. These students should be the first to return to campus when it is safe, and to have additional expert support there. Again, I will advocate providing that extra support.

  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?

    MVLA will continue giving free meals to students in need, and will work with the community to provide meals for their families. MVLA’s Adult School provides a low cost, high quality parent participation preschool program, for which enrollment is free to parents who can’t afford the low cost. The District will refer parents who can’t use that program to Mountain View Whisman, and to the city for their programs, which I’ll continue to support.

    Remote learning requires even more tutorial and enrichment activities than our campus tutorial programs usually provide through MVLA’s volunteer Mentor/Tutor program. We’ll expand this program in Covid-19, and I’ll advocate keeping the expanded version.