In my previously elected position on the MHUSD, I focused squarely on students and families. Every decision I made in my 4 years on the Board was based on how would this affect our kids. I made sure I listened to the parent community on what their needs was by parent engagement. As a City Council Member, I bring that unique experienced to the city.
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?
Covid 19 brought into play unexplored areas concerning our children, families and how we go about our daily lives. There is no normal in our current environment. Family incomes have been affected and thus causing stress within the family unit. Distance Learning in some schools has been mediocre and as a result children are not learning and advancing. Until we get back to a combination of in person learning combined with more effective distant learning techniques coupled with a vaccine for the virus we have to find solutions to support the family unit. I actually believe people are supporting one another in ways we haven't seen before by building mini support groups within our communities. Parent surveys and other types of data collecting feedback is critical going forward. By honest dialogue on these areas we can come up with unique solutions to address these stressful times we are in. No one size fits all but unique to each area - family unit, school, city.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
We are in unchartered waters! All areas of our environment have been affected by financial shortfalls. I actually went through such a financial shortfall when I was on the School Board and we had to make tough decisions. But my 'priority' then as is now ,we have to put kids first. I am a Graduate of Masters in Governance through CSBA and trained in Finance among other areas like collective bargaining and HR. Making sure that if cuts are needed, we stay as far away from the classroom as possible is the only solution to restructuring.
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 Covid crisis actually addresses this in that quality child care and preschool programs have been developed by agencies like the CDC center and YMCA. Working with the various agencies and federal government to ensure a reduced cost program for essential workers is paramount. In my district and some districts in San Jose I know new programs have been established in our communities. What we need to do going forward is enhance these new programs and ensure access is for anyone who needs it at affordable costs.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
This is probably one of the most difficult but crucial areas to address because of COVID and social distancing. To ensure children with special needs and disabilities are included in todays new world will have to be enforced by the local agencies by including parent input and constant dialogue on how we can implement safe and effective programs given the COVID situation. I believe this can be done when putting mitigation programs in place to ensure safety comes first for our kids. A strong focus on inclusion must be paramount.
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?
Again, I am running for City Council but I believe I have previous experience so at the city level, we can collaborate and work with the schools to ensure access to healthy foods. I personally know in my district this is a priority because I have seen the programs during the previous 5 months of COVID. After school programs such as tutors and enrichment activities in my district have been increased over the last two years to include low income and children of color, we have to evaluate these and enhance them where needed. The achievement gap is an area I personally championed while on the Board but you have to first admit there's is a gap to move forward, data is the key resource for change.