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

Fremont Union High School District

Benaifer Dastoor

I firmly believe in the paradigm ‘Children thrive when families, schools and communities work together’. Children regardless of their background should have access to high quality education and an opportunity to succeed. Investing in education and making our public schools stronger is the greatest gift we can give our children.

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

    1.Access to affordable healthcare- we must treat it as a right and take proactive steps to keep health care costs down and expand medi-cal access for more families.
    2.Access to early education- besides advocating for universal preschool education, to look for innovative solutions like partnering with community/non- profit organizations, parent participation schools, support from school districts to provide affordable preschool options for all kids.
    3.Housing affordability in good school districts – to encourage the city and county officials wherever possible to work with the community to include affordable housing options while considering new plans and developments.

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

    As a school district trustee, I would ensure that our district budget provides for funding of programs and supportive services for low income students in our district. Our high school district through its adult education school program offers a preschool program which is well supported, and I would work to make it accessible to more families. Working with the city officials to develop options of affordable housing for our district employees and to ensure that our low-income families can continue to live in our school district is also a priority.

  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?

    Early education provides a strong foundation for children to succeed in school later in life. As a school board trustee, I will advocate for funding of a universal preschool program to make it accessible to all children regardless of their family income. As an alternative to state funding, I also support parent participation preschool programs, affordable child care and preschool programs partnered with non- profits and other community organizations. Presently we have LCFF, which sets aside funds for English learners and hopefully with a universal preschool program we can incorporate the same funding formula for English learners in preschools.

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

    Sadly, the graduation rates for students with disabilities is lower than other subgroups. I would encourage the school district to allocate resources from general fund in addition to the grants provided by the county and state to offer high quality special education program that supports students in meeting the goals designated in their individualized educational plans. Having trained staff in the school district who can work with the struggling students and their families will go a long way to reduce the achievement gap for this sub group.

  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?

    At the macro level we need to advocate for living wages for families and wrap-around services so that parents can set their children up for success. At the micro level the school districts can draw on the general fund to serve their low-income students. I will encourage targeted support and interventions for low income and struggling students through special programs, creation of student assistance teams to help identify academically at-risk students; guided studies; allocating funds for students to purchase school supplies and summer school programs; all of which would help narrow this achievement gap linked to opportunity gap.