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 absolutely think that our state’s lawmakers need to start to prioritizing children’s programs, Medi-Cal and education. We must hold our government accountable for providing support to these critical services.
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?
Every child, regardless of their background, deserves an opportunity to succeed. I believe that our government should invest in our most vulnerable children, including strengthening the child welfare system.
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?
I support implementing the strategies listed in California’s Continuum of Care Reform, which offers clear solutions to increase the amount of safe and loving families for foster youth children.
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?
I absolutely believe in increasing access to evidence-based home visiting. We must ensure that families who need additional guidance can receive the proper support, including funding informational campaigns.
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?
Every California resident who qualifies for the program should have access to affordable early childhood education and child care programs. We need to support programs like this, and inform the public about them, to ensure that children have all the necessary tools to succeed.
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?
I believe the sizeable gap between the salary of child care providers and preschool teachers as opposed to most public employees is a sad reflection of our state’s priorities. I believe that investing in our children should be the top priority of our State’s Legislature, and in the Assembly, I’ll fight for just that.
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?
The Legislature should invest more in education, and less on needless incarceration. California needs to needs to spend less on incarceration and start funding comprehensive educational services like after school programs, mental health providers, and academic counselors.
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?
As a longtime School Board member, I know that investing in teachers is the best way to ensure student success. In the Assembly, I’ll fight to hire more teachers, decrease class sizes, and better evaluate teacher efficacy.
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?
California needs truly live up to its claims of being a national progressive beacon, and adequately invest in its public education system.
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?
We must ensure that all students who are dual language learners have access to an education that will support their bilingual/multilingual future. It should be a requirement for all schools to offer multiple language courses.
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?
I believe we must invest in high quality STEM education to ensure that California’s students are prepared for the jobs of the future.
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?
I absolutely believe that California should improve its funding for higher education. California needs to ensure that its higher education systems are offering high quality and affordable education.
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?
I strongly believe that California lawmakers need to improve Medi-Cal reimbursement rates. We must ensure that that Californians have access to affordable healthcare throughout our state, regardless of a person’s geographic region or economic background.
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?
I believe that every child should receive the appropriate mental health services they need to succeed. To ensure this, state lawmakers need to includes strengthening Medi-Cal reimbursement rates and expanding access to affordable care.
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?
California should absolutely expand access to affordable dental services, particularly for young children in poverty.