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

Palo Alto Unified School District Governing Board

Nicole Chiu-Wang

As a School Board Member, I would work to ensure all our students feel valued for who they are, proud of who they are becoming, and able to thrive both in school and beyond. We need to support families by providing quality, affordable childcare including early childhood education, after school care, special education, and disability services.

  1. 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 biggest issues are lack of affordable housing, the disappearing middle class, and the high overall cost
    of living that creates insurmountable challenges for lower wage workers and their families.
    I will advocate and work for affordable housing, including workforce housing for teachers and school
    staff. I would work with our City Council, Stanford, and California School Boards Association to add more
    housing at all levels. I will ensure that all employees, vendors and contractors in our district are paid a
    living wage. And, I will work to identify and address issues of systemic inequity within our public school

  2. 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?

    I am committed to bringing universal preschool and quality, affordable childcare to our school district. I
    will work to provide free and subsidized quality childcare to those students whose families cannot
    otherwise afford it. I will focus on finding funding to support this increase in services so that we don’t
    have to funding from other valuable programs, ensuring that we pay living wages to the workforce
    providing childcare and early childhood education, and designing these programs to serve working
    families with the hours of childcare that they need.

  3. 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?

    If elected to the Palo Alto School Board, I will identify areas where the opportunity gap is greatest and
    push forward programs to close the gap in those areas. PAUSD has done this with the Every Student
    Reads Initiative focused on literacy by age 8. We need to use this framework to expand our efforts to
    close the opportunity gap. In addition, we need to provide universal preschool, increase our tutoring
    services, reduce the cost of our enrichment activities and improve the quality of the free meals we
    provide to all of our students.

  4. 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?

    Although a 2018 PAUSD survey showed that 85% of special education families are satisfied with their
    experience, I hear from many families that the assessment process is unnecessarily challenging to
    navigate, it is also incredibly difficult to get an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) laying out the services
    their special education student is entitled to, and that their student’s IEP did not full address their
    student’s needs. I would start by focusing on these three concerns and I would ensure that all of our
    stakeholders - parents, teachers, staff, students, and administrators - are included as we think through
    solutions to these issues.

  5. 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?

    While PAUSD has begun integrating mental health and wellness services, opened wellness centers, and
    hired mental health professionals for all our school sites - we are still understaffed which results in our
    students not being able to receive the care that they need when they need it. In this regard, I would
    focus on hiring and ensuring that those hired are representative of our diverse community. We have not
    spent nearly as much time or money on the mental health of the rest of our school community - our
    teachers and our staff. I would start by creating a committee of teachers and staff to help design
    programs that will address their mental health and wellness needs.