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

Morgan Hill Unified School District, Area 2

Enrique Navarro-Donnellan

The family is the most important social unit, above the individual and government alike. It is the first and most reliable guarantor of children's health, morality, and success. Therefore, the mission of the school district must always be on empowering the students, and integrating parents into the local education system.

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

    1) School Safety - Schools in the MHUSD are underprotected and overexposed to potential criminal intruders. CPTED (criminal prevention through environmental design) strategy must be implemented to redesign schools into single-entry campuses. 2) Academic Achievement - Despite stellar exceptions among a handful of California schools, the state's public school system ranks 35th overall nationally according to Education Week. Approving charter schools and school vouchers would empower students to enroll in more effective schools. 3) Restorative Justice - Minority students suffer from higher rates of disciplinary action. By focusing on community-building practices, we can dissuade at-risk youth from criminal enterprise.

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

    As it stands, Morgan Hill Unified School District receives 30% less funding per pupil ($2,350) than the highest funded district in Santa Clara County. By advocating and lobbying for adjustments to the Local Control Funding Formula, we will restore a more equitable distribution of funding towards MHUSD schools. By doing this, we can allot more staff to the goals of school safety, academic achievement, and restorative justice. Additionally, we will lean on local non-profits and foundation support to promote programs accomplishing the three core goals, without further burdening the taxpayer.

  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?

    Where public resources are insufficient to meet the public need, it is incumbent on local communities and stakeholders to stand up and step forth to the call of volunteerism. We will build district-sanctioned partnerships with relevant nonprofits and private charities that are able to support those most in need in our community. For this to succeed however, English language learning must be supported among the immigrant population. To this end, we will expand on the English Learner Master Plan to include parents in addition to students so that language skills and acquisition will be reinforced in the home.

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

    In my experience as a student back in elementary school, I was privileged with the opportunity to be partnered with special-needs students for reading comprehension purposes. In addition to reinforcing my own learning, this allowed me to promote the acquisition of literacy skills for those most in need on a peer-to-peer collaborative basis. All schools should have student learning partnership programs to complement professional staff work and instruction. This will help build each school into a community and integrate special needs students into the classroom.

  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?

    Better coordination with the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency, and partnerships with relevant nonprofits and private foundations such as The Health Trust will enable us to ensure access to proper nutrition. Meanwhile, partnerships with Santa Clara County libraries and the Silicon Valley Education Foundation will provide students with additional access to language and math tutors along with online access to bridge the digital divide.