Alum Rock Union School District Governing Board
Children and families deserve an education system that serves them well. That means preparing children to succeed, whether that includes higher education or not. Strong schools empower students to lead fulfilling lives, find good jobs, and improve their community. My goal in life is to create that environment throughout Alum Rock.
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?
The top issue in the Bay Area by far is the cost of living, which is mostly tied to the cost of housing. From an education perspective, the biggest way to combat affordability is to expand the educational pipeline into well-paying jobs. As a school board member, I will have the ability to shape our schools so that students are better prepared to join the workforce at a sufficient income level for the Bay Area. That includes increasing students’ financial literacy by making them aware of how much it costs to live here, the kinds of jobs that are stable and well-paying, and what career pathways will lead them to those jobs.
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?
One of the campuses in Alum Rock is being transformed into an early education center, a major step in addressing the challenge of childcare and preschool in the community. I would maximize the impact of this solution by ensuring that afterschool programs serve the greatest number of children possible. To make sure that children get the attention they deserve, I would balance the desire to serve the greatest number with the need to maintain sensible ratios of children and caretakers. In order to maximize impact without degrading the quality of these programs, I would tap every resource available to the community to make sure that a sufficient number of adults are running these programs.
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?
To increase equity of opportunity, I would need to focus on two things: maximizing resources and making sure they are appropriately deployed. To maximize resources, I would aim to secure every dollar I could for the district, whether that is through local, state, federal, or private funding. To use these resources appropriately, I would aim to serve the greatest number of students with these extra supports, whether it is preschool, tutors, or enrichment activities. Approximately 11% of households in Alum Rock are below the poverty line and about 90% of students are children of color, so ensuring wide access to these programs will guarantee support for the children that need it most.
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?
Students with special needs or disabilities need appropriate support at school. That can only happen if schools are adequately staffed. My vision for the school district is full staffing of teachers and aides to offer that support. Without fully staffed schools, the staff that are present are overworked – meaning children that need extra support end up getting inadequate support or even no support at all. In order to make sure that children with special needs or disabilities and their families are included in our community, my priority is to work on staff retention and expansion. This includes attracting more and better candidates by raising wages, within the budget, for those positions.
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?
Similar to students with special needs or disabilities, a big issue facing those that need mental and behavioral health services is that of access. The solution is the same – increased staffing. Wherever staffing of mental health workers is insufficient, I would seek to add more positions, to the extent allowed by the budget. Another way I would increase access is to see what can be done to offer services digitally. This would make it easier to access for those who are otherwise uncomfortable seeking or using mental health services.