All children and families have rights to 1)safe places to live; 2)high quality, equitable public education; 3)access to medical & mental health services; and 4)freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation or identity, religion, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or neurological, physical, or developmental difference.
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) Lack of social safety net: I will invest in affordable housing, universal childcare, universal medical & mental health care; and jobs that pay a living wage. For housing, I will provide emergency transitional housing for the unhoused and home-unstable, as well as permanent housing, while also preserving existing homes. I will implement a strong system of tenant protections against eviction, rent hikes, and discrimination.
2) Lack of access to high quality & equitable education: I strongly support Prop 15, and I will invest city funding into our public school system, to lower class size, hire more teachers, and make programs available for free tutoring and extra help.
3) Lack of safety due to racially biased systems esp police: I will transfer a large portion of police funding to mental health services, and community-based non-violent solutions like neighborhood mediators. I also will require the firing of officers with records of racial violence as well as immediate adoption of 8 Can’t Wait.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
Palo Alto is extremely wealthy, yet fails to tax its largest companies. If Palantir and Tesla paid taxes, Palo Alto would not have needed the $80 million of cuts on services for children, teens, families, and seniors approved by our city council this spring.
I will increase city revenues by: (1) passing a tax on our largest companies that have profited from the pandemic; (2) raising commercial developer fees so they pay for externalities; (3) revive our office of commercial enforcement, collecting penalties for corporate code violations; and (4) reallocate funding from the police to the community, and using the site earmarked for a new police HQ for affordable housing & childcare instead.
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?
With funding derived from taxing Tesla, Palantir, and other Palo Alto companies that profit from the pandemic, I would:
1) Provide universal preschool and childcare to families who live here and work here -- including teachers & school staff, city staff, and service workers.
2) Work to extend this childcare and preschool to families in nearby neighborhoods, especially East Palo Alto, who have been excluded from Palo Alto due to decades of legalized racial segregation.
3) Offer robust, free, high quality ESL education to all families, locating close to their homes, including in EPA and Menlo Park.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
I have a child on the autistic spectrum, so have personal experience with these issues. I would provide:
1) Assessments independent of public school budgets, so all children can have their differences identified and addressed.
2) Universal access to: mental healthcare, individual and group therapy, behavioral programs, and other assistive services without depriving students of academics.
3) More funding so local schools can deliver FAPE on site in the least restrictive environment rather than private placements and/or restrictive options.
4) Specialists to help children with physical, medical, psychological, developmental, and/or neurological challenges.
5) Community services that serve diverse children like Magical Bridge.
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?
1) Go beyond bussing, to invest in schools in nearby communities of color. All schools should be high quality, not just schools in rich neighborhoods.
2) Invest in one (to start) public school in a nearby under resourced community to make it appealing to all, e.g. tech or social justice magnet, school of the arts. Be extremely mindful to prioritize local children, and avoid gentrification and displacement.
3) Provide free childcare and tutoring before school and afterschool for local and nearby communities.
4) Improve and expand free meals program, including more nutritious options, meals for other family members, and dinner. Palo Alto can afford to subsidize meals beyond state reimbursement levels
5) Recognize that we need these children to solve the problems we created! We will have no future without them.