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

Fremont Union High School District

Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto

“Kodomo no tame ni” (For the sake of the children) is a Japanese-American phrase that guided my immigrant grandparents and American-born parents through overcoming hardship to make better lives for their children. I have been a proven champion for equity and justice for children, youth, families in our communities.

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

    Fremont Union High School District top issues: * Social emotional health - as a high performing, nationally recognized district there is great expectations for students to achieve. This has lead to high incidences of stress and anxiety that manifests in mental health, substance abuse and other health concerns. * Economic stability - west and north Santa Clara County has the highest incomes in the county. Often invisible are those whose incomes fall within HUD's poverty level. Teacher salaries have impact on hiring and retention. * Housing - with the lack of affordable housing, teachers often commute long hours to school.

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

    A budget is a moral document and communicates the values of an organization. It shows what areas, issues, things or people are most important and least important. My motto is FUHSD is the BEST! Beacon of Excellence for Students/Staff and Teachers. In order to be the BEST, we have to Do What's Best, Be the Best and Stay the Best. I would work to ensure that budget decisions always had the students and their educational success at the forefront. I would work to seek new resources and revenues to enhance and expand instruction, not take away from it.

  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?

    As a high school district, FUHSD is not directly impacted by early childhood issues. However if we address this as an issue impacting the health and well-being of our families, community and our future high school students, we should seek opportunities to work in collaboration with our feeder school districts, non-profits, local preschools, businesses and legislators in advocacy, resource development, etc. to ensure access for all children to high quality learning. FUHSD's Educational Options Program has a Young Parents Program. I would work to ensure that students in this program have access to quality early childhood programs.

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

    As a former School Social Worker, I have been a member of Interdisciplinary Teams to ensure that students who have unique educational needs and barriers have the educational and social/emotional support to succeed. I would seek to learn what the student needs and barriers for those with special needs or with disabilities are in the district and work together with staff and administration to improve inclusion and outcomes. I would also include students as part of this work plan.

  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?

    As a social worker and a former school social worker, I have worked to close the "opportunity gap" through resource development, coalition building, community development, advocacy, program development, etc. As a School Board Member, I would continue to do the same. I would seek to strengthen established partnerships or establish new ones with non-profit service providers, county and city programs, business/corporate community, services organizations, faith communities, community leaders and governments to enhance and expand resources. When advocacy and legislation are appropriate I would support these efforts.