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

Oak Grove School District, Area 4

Carla Hernández

I am a special educator that believes in investing in literacy, social emotional learning, diverse staff and curriculum, and equitable opportunities that support and uplift students and families of all identities, languages, cultures, and learning styles.

  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?

    Covid-19 exposed how pervasive the digital divide was before Covid-19 and how dire the situation continues to be. I want to advocate and work with other elected officials and companies to provide accessible internet, internet literacy, and technological tools for all of our students and families, especially our most vulnerable student populations. I also believe that the social and emotional well-being of our students and staff is a priority. The experience of the wildfires and Covid-19 displaced and traumatized many in the community, and we know that Covid-19 is disproportionately affecting Black and Latinx communities. I will prioritize social workers and mental health practitioners, spaces, and tools to support the healing of our communities. Lastly, I believe that our curriculum should continue to expand in order to reflect and honor the culture and diversity of our communities.

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

    I would approach the budget process with the understanding and care that our budget affects the livelihood of our teachers, staff, and administration and the educational experience and future of our students. Our budget should reflect these values. I will secure social workers and invest in tools that will promote safety and mental and physical health resources. I will also work diligently to secure the jobs of our teachers and staff while promoting curriculum and hiring practices that are inclusive and reflective of our diverse community.

  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 understand the impact of early childhood education and how critical it is for the development of our students. As a school board trustee, I will work with other elected officials to fight for quality public child care and preschool programs to be available for all families, especially for low-income children and English language learners. I will also invest in partnerships with organizations like local libraries to strengthen literacy programs and access for young learners.

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

    As a special educator teacher, I believe it is critical that we are pushing for inclusive opportunities for our students. I want to ensure success for our special education students within these inclusive opportunities and would promote training and time to plan how to reach diverse learners across general and special education classrooms. I will also invest in restorative justice practices and equitable behavioral interventions to tackle the disproportionate rate of suspensions and discipline actions we see with our students, especially those with special education needs and/or Black and Brown students.

  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 dedicated to supporting not only the mental health needs of our students, but also physical needs that are fundamental for their growth. I will work with local companies and providers to ensure that our students have access to healthy and nutritional food and curriculum that teaches our students of the benefits of a healthy diet. I also will fight for our students that are most in need to be automatically enrolled in free or reduced lunch programs. Lastly, I will prioritize enrichment activities, like gardening or civics education, to receive funding through grants and our budget of Oak Grove School District.