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

California State Assembly, District 29

Shomir Banerjee

Family and children are the building blocks of civilization. The spiritual health of families is the glue that binds civilization together.

  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?

    1. Education: The quality of children's education is directly related to their success in life and the growth of society. The current racial conflicts are essentially a result of poor education.
    2. Healthcare: Without health, children cannot succeed in school.
    3. Food, clothing, shelter: Maslow's hierarchy can be a guide for us. If our children do not have their basic needs met, then it is unlikely they will be able to progress forward in their lives, and as a society we miss out on their contribution.

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

    The large, centralized school concept has largely failed us. I propose radically changing the school system to create more numerous, smaller schools. This will inherently encourage more accountability of teachers to parents and parents to teachers. The history of efforts to improve the system have failed, evident from the racial and class conflict now present.

  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?

    Better access to childcare before elementary school can effectively be solved through larger-scale economic programs that would enable more opportunity for families to succeed on a single income rather than the dual incomes that are required now.

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

    Again, having smaller schools will inherently address this. It is much easier for a smaller community to adapt to the diverse and unique needs of a smaller number of persons than it is for a larger system to adapt to a greater diversity of needs. Speech therapists are highly educated and excellent at meeting the needs of children with special needs. They can adapt their business model to the needs of their community. We should pay them for this service.

  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?

    There are an abundance of services available already, that could be delivered more efficiently in the short-term. However, the larger problem is the loss of income earning opportunities to move from low-income to middle-class income and beyond, that is a result of poor economic policies set by our federal government in decades past. No amount of free services can counter the hopelessness created by not having an opportunity for upward mobility. Trade policies have led to the steady destruction of the middle class, and increase in the sizes of lower and upper class, mimicking the economic distribution of lesser developed countries.