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

Santa Clara County Office of Education, Area 4

Ketzal Gomez

All children and families deserve an educational system that not only makes them feel safe and welcome but empowers them to create a better tomorrow.

  1. 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?

    Top 3 issues:

    Digital Divide:
    In Silicon Valley, there should be no reason why there are any students that do not have access to the internet or technology. We need to partner and collaborate with our high tech neighbors to fix this problem. This will not completely solve the inequities exacerbated by COVID, but it will allow a more equitable playing field for our most vulnerable students.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has created financial issues in all sectors. This makes community members who rely on publicly funded resources very nervous. In acknowledging that budget cuts will happen, I will look for cuts that do not directly impact our student’s ability to learn.

    Institutional barriers that create more system-involved youth:
    Another issue in our community is the overrepresentation of black and brown youth that are system involved. In my role at BOE I will make sure to adopt and implement policies that will promote diversion programs over incarceration.

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

    I believe that an agency's budget is a reflection of their priorities and as such, I would make it a priority to defend these areas during the budgetary crisis.

    Cuts that directly impact students learning
    Students need more support now more than ever with distance learning.
    Jobs and employee compensation
    During a global pandemic when we are asking even more from our teachers and staff, they should not have to worry about if they are going to be unemployed or lose their health insurance.
    Programs and services that the community depend on.
    Programs and services are in danger of being cut, and these programs are a lifeline for many communities and I will defend them.

  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?

    I believe that during this unprecedented pandemic it is important that we support our essential workers as they have been working tirelessly to support us. Safe and reliable childcare and preschool programs should not be a luxury only available to a select few in our communities. As an elected official I will continue to advocate for the creation of universal child care and preschool programs especially for low income children and English language learners.

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

    As a former special ed student, I know firsthand the challenges many families face while advocating for their students with special needs or disabilities. The first step we must take to improve the inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs and disabilities is that the Board of Education needs to do a better job of informing all parents and families of the options, tools, and processes that are currently available. Parents cannot advocate for their students if they do not know what they are asking for.

  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?

    We must start by looking at current policies that disproportionately negatively affect low-income and children of color and begin to address policies that contribute to systemic racism.

    A policy that is currently in place that is systematically racist is the CA State
    Truancy Policy. The policy is supposed to prevent chronic absenteeism but has a maximum penalty of $2,000 and or jail time for the parent. The fact that the top three populations who are the most affected by chronic absenteeism are Native American, Black, and Pacific Islander students (2017-2018 school year), are also the same populations who are struggling to test at grade level, only further perpetuates inequalities.