All Santa Clara County students deserve a high quality education, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status. Our county has a higher rate of high school dropouts for students of color compared to the state. By providing free access to early childhood education for all, we can narrow the achievement gap and reduce dropout rates.
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?
Job insecurity, education & mental health. Unfortunately, some families have been affected more than others due to systemic racism. Black & Latinx people are the most oppressed in our community. They overrepresent the essential workforce & yet most of them don’t earn enough to have financial security to fulfill their basic needs. These families are more inclined to lose a job. By not having job security, these families worry about how they are going to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Distance learning has brought with it new issues. Families struggling financially can’t be at home to assist their children with distance learning. Many times families don’t have the resources to assist their children, so their children’s education is at disadvantage. Mental health (like anxiety and depression) is an issue that is affecting all of us. I will work side-by-side with community and board members to make sure we allocate taxpayer money at the right services and programs.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
I will advocate for these groups and make sure that the budget process reflects their needs. We need free school lunches for students who might not qualify because they are above the poverty level but yet can’t afford school lunch.
Some kids’ education is at a disadvantage because their parents can’t be home to assist them. Students with special needs don’t always have the resources they need. I propose implementing hybrid programs so children of essential workers and special education children can go back to the classroom (if they feel safe).
Address mental health by budgeting for programs to support our students, teachers, and caregivers.
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?
Early childhood education can no longer be an afterthought. Decades after decades we receive statistics showing clear numbers indicating that children who have access to early child education are less likely to dropout of high school and more likely to finish college. This assures financial stability and a better quality life for students. However, most of the children who have access to early childhood education is because their families can afford it. We need to keep supporting programs such as, Early Five and Head Start Programs. In addition we need to create a system where every child has access to high quality early childhood education.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
I will listen to their needs and implement programs to boost parent and teacher participation. Family engagement is fundamental but can’t be achieved without inclusion. We need strong connections between parents and teachers. Parents need to be involved at every step to ensure a meaningful family/school relationship. Often parents are only contacted by teachers when there is an issue. If we create a system where teachers contact caregivers on a regular basis to give them good news about their children's process, this will make parents feel more included in a positive way. This approach empowers caregivers to voice their needs and feel more included in their child's education.
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?
I will do the following:
Support and facilitate parent, family, and community outreach.
Advocate for early childhood education so children can have access to early education, regardless of family income.
Create alliances with food banks so our low income families will have access to healthy food all year round.
Create alliances with teachers and parents to create tutoring programs from children who are falling behind.
Make sure that the budget process assigns funds for summer education for low income students to avoid the summer slide.