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

Cupertino Union School District

Lori Cunningham

Every child needs resources, support, mentorship and love to thrive. We must come together as parents, agencies, and as a community to ensure that every child gets what they need. I believe that the promise of public education is the foundation of our democracy and of the American Dream.

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

    To support all children and families in our community I propose that we must prioritize funding and seek out regional partnerships and solutions to: 1. Ensure access to high quality childcare, early childhood education and comprehensive opportunities to support all children pre-K-12 and beyond before they can ever become statistics in our opportunity and achievement gap. 2. Address the ever widening economic divide and income inequality in our region by tackling our affordable housing crisis. 3. Improve access to high quality healthcare services for all children and families.

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

    I believe that our budget must prioritize resources directly into our classrooms. We need to invest smartly in lowering ratios between students and teachers, instructional support staff, intervention specialists and counseling staff. We must acknowledge that all students do not enter school on a level playing field, and then we must craft policies that reflect supporting every child where they need to be supported, and challenging every child where they need to be challenged. We must do the work inter- and intra- agency partnerships to address the social safety-net for all children and families.

  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?

    Children learn from birth. Lifelong outcomes for kids improve with investment in high quality child care and early childhood education for every child. I will be a voice for all kids in the fight for increased federal and state funding for optional, universal, high-quality early childhood education for every 3- and 4-year-old. I will be an advocate for expanded, stable funding to support our low-income, English language and special needs learners.

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

    As a physical therapist, I know firsthand the critical importance of early intervention services for our children with special needs and/or disabilities in achieving improved outcomes in school. I feel it is essential that we improve our diagnostic screening and detection programs and invest in more robust early intervention services. Our policies as a school district must prioritize school climate and the social and emotional well-being of every learner as essential components of promoting inclusion in our work to educate 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?

    On our District Advisory for 4 years now, I have been an active member of our LCAP process each year. I wholeheartedly support prioritizing resources, supports and interventions directly to our most vulnerable students. As the 12th lowest funded school district in CA, our district is exploring fee-based preschool as a means to stabilize our finances. While we desperately need this revenue enhancing program to stay solvent, I would propose we partner with community organizations to create opportunities for tuition assistance and/or scholarship to make our high quality pre-K available for more vulnerable children and families.