Children and families need adequate housing, food security, access to health care, and education. Schools can provide most of these needs but will need help from governmental agencies and private groups. Digital divide must be eliminated so children can learn while schools prepare to return students when it is safe to do so.
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?
Three issues affecting our children:
• Safe and secure learning environment – schools will be tasked to provide the appropriate resources for students.
• Students and families must be involved in district and school decisions – returning students to school is the main priority for families. Communication is essential in reaching all stakeholders.
• Respect and inclusion – children and families must feel valued and safe.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
School districts will be challenged with the budget process. Additional funding from federal and state governments will be necessary. Covid 19 has imposed extraordinary extra costs for districts. Schools cannot shoulder all these costs. They will need many partnerships and creative budgeting.
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?
The United States has long treated child care as something that families should figure out on their own. Employers are having to rethink caregiving benefits – less than 10% of employers are offering subsidies for child care. Who you work for determines what benefits you might receive. Partnership with private and public groups is essential to help parents. Child care is essential.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
Having taught special needs children for 32 years I have always advocated for appropriate and inclusive programs for these students. The IEP (Individual Educational Plan) is the essential plan to insure that these children receive the necessary services. Parent support groups have also advocated for these children.
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?
The “opportunity gap” is a major challenge for districts. When the State passed the Local Control Funding Formula it was intended to close the “achievement gap” that separated poor and English learners from children of more privileged circumstances. More state oversight and accountability must be required. I will work with district staff and legislators to improve oversight so funds will benefit the intended student groups and not be spent on other budget items.