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

Mountain View-Whisman School District

Christopher Kent Chiang

I am running because of this crisis, and how it can be an opportunity for more progressive education. Future-ready students need access to project-based learning. I believe I bring unique value in my 16years of teaching, twice teacher of the year, including teaching remotely since March and leading a pilot on in-person hybrid teaching this summer.

  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?

    Learning Loss, Social-Emotional Developmental Loss, and Sense of the Future
    A leading study by the RAND Institute reveals how learning loss during COVID-19 can have lifelong effects if we don't address them now and also later. Now, we need to make sure students have the WiFi to fully engage with what is offered in this crisis. Later, we need to invest in after school and summer programs to provide year-round enrichment.

    Social emotionally, the most at-risk students had the least chances to connect with peers, and a district-wide robust social-emotional learning curriculum along with teacher training, will be needed to accelerate students' ability to be socially healthy.

    This year has left so many students uncertain what the future holds; more than ever, we need to build mentorships, culturally relevant curriculum, and visits to colleges and careers that help them see optimism in themselves and their future.

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

    I am adamantly against spending money on things that don't impact students. I personally attended bare-bones middle school in a shoe factory in Taiwan, and it was magical because the teachers were magical. The board deals with millions and thousands, parent foundations and PTA deal with 1/100th that, we need to ensure the large reach of board policy funnels those funds into the hands of teachers and kids.

    There is also work to be done on renegotiating MVWSD's share funding in a special tax district in North Bayshore that siphons off over $5 million dollars, that's equal to two extra parcel taxes. District non-classrooms spending and this tax district make MVWSD feel poorer than it should.

  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?

    Learning loss address every year earlier is money saved later, so preschool is an investment. It's wonderful that MVWSD has been a leader in seeing this. Land is one abundant resource schools can offer preschool and daycares. Another valuable service beyond that is to extend district's special education assessments and therapy to reach preschoolers. Another area underestimated is the power of a village mentality. Access to books and other enrichment is key in the early years. District families could be organized to pass on all the books and materials as their children age out.

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

    School climate and SEL should also get more school board time than test scores. Without SEL, school is not a safe place for any student. Inclusion can be powerful for many cases, but really only if a culture of appreciating diverse learning profiles and self-advocacy is promoted for all children in a classroom. Children need to see from K-8 examples of successful and diverse individuals like Temple Grandin and Peter Thiel. The power of highlighting ethnically diverse role models applies to highlighting role models with disabilities, the board can broaden its inclusion goals to include this. There is also a staffing shortage in special education, we pay for teachers to get credentialed.

  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?

    MVWSD has been a leader in providing healthy food and preschool programs. I am proud I was part of the effort to expand these when I was on the board in 2012-2015, in my effort to bring a community schools ethos to the district. One area that remains neglected is cultivating a culture of future possibility. A culture of future possibilities starts with seeding students with a small college fund at a very young age, a public proposal championed by Berkeley professor, and Obama administration advisor, David Kirp. That eye on the future is followed up with mentors that students can relate to, culturally relevant curriculum that empowers them, and skills that do more than bolster test scores,