Santa Clara Unified School District Governing Board, Trustee Area #4
I believe in the transformational power of education. Our District is a diverse ecosystem with different groups that depend on each other to build value in our neighborhoods, create learning for real-world relevance, and develop equitable educational opportunities for every child and every school.
In a recent poll by Choose Children 2022 of likely general election voters, more than half of parents with children under age 18 say they are likely to move out of the Bay Area in the next few years. What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how will you make our region a place where all families can thrive?
I believe the top three issues affecting our families are affordable housing, cost of living and quality childcare. However, we can focus on offering world-class education. We need to build out our educational opportunities for students into innovative, relevant, and flexible models that challenge our kids. With truly innovative and forward-thinking curriculum, we can create a demand for our educational system that will attract students and families to Santa Clara Unified School District. Utilizing new technology and new learning methodologies enables students to thrive, students who are behind to catch up, and unleashes the creativity and talent of teachers.
As we have learned over the past three years, without quality, affordable, childcare, parents can’t go to work. What will you do to address challenges accessing childcare and preschool programs in our diverse communities?
The new addition of TK programs rolling out across Santa Clara Unified School District, the accessibility gap for pre-school will be greatly improved. However, being able to offer quality and affordable pre and post childcare around the academic day is an issue that also needs to be addressed. I believe that districts need to share ideas, pool resources, and look at the negotiating power of being able to find partners that can fill in gaps where childcare needs are at their most critical.
Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the opportunity gap that children in low-income families and children of color confront (e.g., lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors, and enrichment activities). If elected, what will you do to increase equity of opportunity?
I am very committed to targeted spending so that budgetary resources are deployed thoughtfully and with the greatest potential for positive impact. To do that, we will depend on data and performance metrics from district and school administrators to assess where our neediest and most under-served students are located and also what resources or programs are needed to help address those opportunity gaps. I believe that closing those gaps and bringing those students up to or exceeding grade level standards will only serve to benefit all students in every classroom. There are no easy answers, but more can be done and we should always be striving as a community to do better by these kids.
What steps will you take to support inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities and their families to be fully included in our community?
One of the most important aspects of my campaign for school board is listening. For children with special needs or with disabilities, I believe that we can always be listening and learning about what is needed to support and include these students and their families. I know from listening to current district employees that staffing resources are a struggle. Additionally, helping parents understand the resources and systems within the school district that are available is also important. Families need to have confidence that the district is prepared to help their student thrive, meet them where they are at, and ensure that they feel welcomed and valued within their school community.
There is a mental health crisis among children, youth, and those who care for and educate them. If elected, how will you use the resources of your new role to improve access to mental and behavioral health services?
In an ideal world, we would be able to offer much more robust mental health counseling and services to all of our students and adults in need in our public schools. However, I know that we need real solutions to a growing mental health issue within our school system. I’ve seen creative models in schools used where group counseling sessions are utilized that help school counselors reach more students and provide students with a safe space among peers so that they know they are not alone. We also talk about eliminating the stigma of seeking mental health resources. Schools can lead in this arena and should be actively engaging with this topic in age-appropriate ways at all grade levels.