I support our public schools and will work to support and strengthen high quality, well-rounded, public education for all children.
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. Equitable access to remote learning is crucial. Many children don’t have adequate internet access or dedicated devices.
2. Emotional support is essential. School is often a constant in kids’ lives, and figuring out how to keep that constant while distance learning is challenging. Educating teachers to detect emotional issues remotely, and learning how to reach out to parents when there are concerns is key. Teachers, administrators, students and parents should build a positive school culture to acknowledge and address racism, sexism, harassment and bullying.
3. Child care and supervision is important. Many families have only one parent or two working parents and cannot be home or available to supervise their children, let alone their school work, during regular school hours. During the pandemic, remote learning has resulted in a lot of stress on families.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
The school district needs to keep flexibility in the budget for emergencies, like the COVID-19 pandemic. Having the flexibility to move funds where necessary, for example to enable purchase of more hotspots or chrome books, is important. We don’t know what the next emergency may be, so keeping some flexibility while investing in our teachers and administrators is a top priority. I would include investing in teacher education to handle the rigors and challenges of remote learning. Investigating ways to make childcare affordable for our most needy families is a top priority.
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 board member I will work to help low-income families by asking what they need, for example, expanding before and after school care to include more enrichment activities and English as a second language opportunities. For working parents, quality after school care is important since it is provided on site, doesn’t require separate transportation, and the schedule matches the variations in school schedules.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
I would solicit feedback from our special education coordinator, teachers, administrators, and parents of children with special needs to understand what the current issues are and what solutions have been implemented in our district and in other districts around the county. I would evaluate if there are changes that need to be made to improve our district’s program. I would advocate for more inclusive programs where special education students and other students have more opportunities to interact, socialize and learn from one another. I would also like to see more opportunities for parents of special needs children and parents of children in traditional classes to interact with each other.
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 I mentioned in question 3, the district has a before and after care program that can be expanded to include tutoring, enrichment activities and more options. It was recently started by the school district, and now the program can be tailored to the needs of our students. I would also research what kinds of subsidies are available for low income families with regards to after school care and healthy food programs. All children, regardless of family income level, should have access to healthy food, quality preschool, extra help with academics, and extracurricular activities.