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

Santa Clara County Board of Education

Raeena Lari

Children are our future and they will determine the trajectory of our world. I am somebody who is passionate about protecting and strengthening that future. I am a strong proponent of supporting our children and all stakeholders - our parents, our educators, our neighborhoods, and our communities.

  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?

    High cost of living: Our families are struggling with the cost of living in the Bay Area, particularly housing. Access to stable and secure affordable housing is a prerequisite for families to thrive.
    Student & Family Wellness: We need safe environments for our students and teachers that promote health and wellness, that are essential for effective learning.
    Preparing Students for Their Future: Early learning bridges equity gaps, and enhances long-term student learning outcomes. Every student deserves to be college and career ready. Curriculums need to consider the diverse needs of learners and our changing economy.
    I will advocate for, and support, legislation to address these priorities.

  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 will work to support and enhances SCCOE’s portals for childcare resources that many working families depended on during COVID-19; I will support an enhance SCCOE’s Early Learning programs that many working families access, including preschool, infant/toddler programs and the Early Start Program for children with disabilities. I will advocate for more collaboration and partnerships between stakeholders to improve the quality and accessibility of childcare and preschool programs.

  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?

    Equitable early learning opportunities is key to closing our achievement gap. We need to have strong fiscal oversight of our early childhood education programs and build on the pillars of the Board of Education’s Strong Start Initiative. Expanded after school care is needed to provide enrichment activities to engage students, extra help for students who may be struggling, and provision of healthy food.

  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?

    Our county is a very diverse county and every single student deserves to feel included, celebrated and represented by the inclusion of their stories in their school day. Each child deserves to find themselves in the curriculum. The Board of Education’s “My Name, My Identity”, where pledges are used to pronounce names correctly, is a very valuable initiative in creating an inclusive and respectful community. We need to build on this initiative to include more representation in the school day that reflects our community populations. I will advocate for more funding for our special needs students and teachers and the provision all possible support from specialists and educators to thrive.

  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?

    As a health commissioner, I know that students cannot learn and teachers cannot teach if they are not well. At Our City Forest, where I am a Board member, we are forming partnerships to plant trees in schools. Trees have proven to have myriad mental and physical health benefits. We need to be in prevention and early detection mode for both mental and physical health issues. This includes having counselors in all schools with an open door policy assuring that children have one more adult in their lives they can depend on. Studies have shown that access to onsite counselors encourage engagement by both students and teachers.