National, state, and local research, policy and advocacy to improve the lives of kids

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Joining simply means being identified as "Pro-Kid" and wanting children prioritized in state policymaking. You'll also receive updates and information about key kids' issues and campaigns.

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Peter Choi

Questions 

1. California ranks among the top states in per capita expenditures on a number of government programs, but below the national average on expenditures for children’s programs, including education and Medi-Cal. What are your thoughts on this prioritization of expenditures and what, if any, changes would you make in this regard?

I support more funding for arts & music programs and would require at least 30 minutes of physical exercise/activity every day. California must pass Single Payer Healthcare for All Californians NOW (even if Labor & Unions don't support it because offering medical benefits is the primary carrot they offer to turn a workplace union.).

2. When children who have been neglected or abused enter foster care, the state becomes their legal parent, and bears responsibility for their care and supervision and to ensure they have the opportunity to heal and thrive. What is your position on the need for strengthening the child welfare system?

California needs to hire more case workers. My focus is on what happens to the foster child when they age out of the system.  I support assistance for age 18+ foster teens and establishing programs for adults to mentor them into adulthood and independence.

3. California has a significant shortage of highly-trained and well-supported caregivers to open their homes to children who have been abused and neglected and enter foster care. What strategies would you support, if any, to increase the number of safe and loving families for children in foster care?

Reach out to communities and demographics not currently fully represented in the foster care system.

4. California committed state dollars for the first time this year to evidenced-based home visiting programs, yet they will still reach only 2% of families with young children. What are your thoughts on increasing access to evidence-based home visiting? What other strategies, if any, do you support to aid new and expectant parents and young children during this critical phase of life?  

Home visiting can be an effective mechanism to reach the highest risk families. I support increasing spending to ensure that access is then increased to communities at-risk, esp. those with high numbers of premature birth and infant mortality, poverty, crime & domestic violence, low income, young mothers and certainly families with histories of substance abuse. Early and sustained intervention on behalf of these at risk children will save the state millions of dollars later in their life.

5. Sixty-two percent of the state’s children are born into low-income households, yet only 14% of income-eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in a publicly-supported child care program.  What is your position on this issue, and what, if anything, should be done to ensure that all families have access to high-quality child care? 

Until we pass Single Payer Healthcare for All Californians, California must pro-actively outreach to ensure those families know they have this access, including bi-lingual information targeting low income households for whom English is often not the primary language.

6. The average salary of a California public employee is over $81,000. The average salary of a California preschool educator is just over $34,000, and that of a child care provider is just over $26,000. What are your ideas, if any, about responding to this disparity?

California needs to establish a $20/hr minimum wage. We would all like to increase salaries for those who educate and care for our children, but cities are going broke due to their obligations to the CalPERS’ huge pension increase that is consuming California state and local budgets. I agree with Gov. Jerry Brown who has called the battle over CalPERS’ pensions the next big battle for the state.  We can’t pay higher salaries if all the money is going to pay for a special interest’s lobbying goals.

7. Students of color are more likely to be suspended and expelled, which contributes to significant achievement gaps and ultimately the pipeline from school to prison. What are your thoughts on how the Legislature should respond to this issue?

End the For-Profit Prison system which is modern slavery and unfairly targets predominantly young men and women from low income neighborhoods. Respect the intentions of #BlackLivesMatter activists and demand accountability from law enforcement. And stop electing lawmakers who preach diversity but only work for the betterment and advancement of their tribe.

8. Educational research highlights the strong correlation between student success and teacher quality. What changes to state policy would you support, if any, to help ensure that every public school teacher is effective?

Fire the bad ones.

9. California nationally ranks 50th in class size, 50th in school librarians, 49th in school counselors and 47th in school administrators. What are your thoughts on these rankings, based on staff to student ratios, and what, if anything, should be done in response?   

Direct more funding to decrease classroom size and increase the length of the school year.

10. California has the highest percentage of kids who are dual language learners, ages 0-5, (60%) and school-age English learners (21%) in the country. How will you support these students’ bilingual/multilingual potential? What are your thoughts on how educators in early education and TK-12 can be prepared to assist these students to meet their language development needs?

All students should learn at least two languages in PreK and elementary school.  A child’s brain is pretty much fully formed by 5th grade so California must focus – and spend – to provide quality early language education. The benefits in years to come are beyond just language but all about lessening developmental holes.

11. In the last decade, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs in California grew by 19% and currently represent 7 of the 10 fastest growing occupations. Yet many high schools don’t offer the STEM courses needed for college or STEM careers, such as calculus, physics and chemistry. What are your thoughts on the need to support and increase access to high-quality STEM instruction in our schools?

As someone who graduated from Harvard with a B.A. degree in English Literature, but also studied AP Physics, and AP Calculus in high school, I can speak from experience that STEM is necessary for EVERY student and it is a failure of incredible shame that EVERY high school doesn’t offer STEM courses.

12. Over the past 40 years, total state spending on higher education has declined by 6%, dropping from 18% to 12% of the state budget. There are an increasing number of students graduating from high school and eligible for college enrollment. What is your position on funding for public higher education?

Free tuition to state colleges. Period.

13. Over 55% of California’s kids are enrolled in Medi-Cal, but California performs near the bottom amongst all state Medicaid programs when it comes to children’s access to primary care physicians and periodic childhood screenings, especially for children of color. What are your thoughts on this issue?

Single Payer Healthcare for all Californians.  Now.

14. Less than 5% of children eligible for specialty mental health services under the early & periodic screening diagnosis & treatment (EPSDT) Medi-Cal benefit actually receive any service. What is your position on this issue and what, if anything, should be done to ensure that more eligible children receive mental health care?

Again, Single Payer Healthcare for All Californians.

California must provide early intervention and improve delivery/follow through for mental health services.

15. Despite the fact that the top reason children miss school in California is due to preventable oral health problems, millions of children in the state lack access to dental services. What is your position on this issue and what, if anything, should be done to address access for children, including 0-5 year olds, to oral health services?

Until we pass SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE FOR ALL CALIFORNIANS, California should allocate funding to make oral health services a required part of every school’s responsibility to their students. 0-5 year olds should be treated using federal dollars and California must explore innovative ways to bring preventive oral care whether by dental students or via web/cell phone.