1. California ranks among the top states in per capita expenditures on a number of government programs (i.e. corrections, law enforcement, general government), but just near or below the national average on expenditures for kids’ 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 believe that this allocation of expenditures needs to completely change. Our state has the largest budget in the nation of any other state and our surplus alone is larger than some small countries. We should be nearing the top or at the top of the national average when it comes to our youth, healthcare, the environment and other key issues essential to basic rights and well being.
I believe in racial justice for all and that the injustice of systemic racism needs to be addressed through, but not limited to: (1) comprehensive criminal justice reform, such as ending qualified immunity and police associations and unions (2) defunding the police and incarceration budget (3) investment in BIPOC communities in schools, healthcare, housing, jobs and more (4) undoing our current policing and incarceration system as we know it and investing in community control of public safety and rehabilitation systems that are not focused on punishment but that is focused on accountability
As a former teacher this issue is close to my heart, in black and brown communities like mine I’ve seen lack of access to high quality educational opportunities, from pre-K to post-secondary. Funding needs to significantly increase for state supported pre-K programs. I have talked to too many parents who feel like schools lack resources, and that they don’t feel like a key stakeholder in the school. There are schools that also have toxic drinking water and one parent even told me about moldy, frozen food offered to students for lunch. Teachers in schools in our district are not paid as highly as in other districts. Charter schools are also starting to spring up, which are taking even more funding from public schools. The high school graduation rate in Watts alone is under 50%. In short, we need to make sure California’s public school system is well funded and the best in the world, for all students, not just some. I have outlined a detailed plan to address public schools from a system, school and classroom level through a massive reallocation of funds through policies like Schools and Communities first would have ensured corporations pay their fair share of taxes to secure funding for social programs and schools, read our full education policy here: https://fatimaforassembly.com/vision/education-justice/
2. California assumes responsibility for abused and neglected children when we remove them from their homes. Therefore, the State is legally obligated to ensure that children and youth in foster care receive vital services and supports to meet their unique needs and find safety, stability and success. How would you strengthen the child welfare system?
I believe we need to prevent children from being placed into foster care as a first resort. Counties and community partners alike need to work together to prevent children from being in foster care. As a state legislator, I would support legislation to make permanent reinvestment in prevention of separation of families a reality to make foster care a final resort. We need to increase and make permanent funding at the county and community level to best support families, giving them exactly what they need to succeed.
3. California ranks poorly in national reports for supporting families with infants and toddlers. The state does invest in programs like evidence-based home visiting – which provide guidance, offer coaching, and connect parents and caregivers to health and social services – but those only reach about 2% of families with young children. What strategies, if any, do you support to aid new and expectant parents and young children during this critical phase of life?
I would fight for universal childcare for all in our state. Having access to childcare should not just be a right for the few that can afford it. I would also fight for increased days of paid parental leave for both parents, comparable to what we see in Sweden and Denmark. I would also support legislation that would make healthcare a human right such as AB1400: Single Payer Healthcare to ensure access to complete physical and mental healthcare and services.
4. More than 2.75 million young children live in California, with the majority being income-eligible for child care assistance. Yet just a fraction of eligible children have access to subsidized child care spaces, due to insufficient funding for child care capacity. This gap is most pronounced for infants and toddlers, where child care subsidies served only 14% of eligible families (pre-pandemic). 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?
I would fully fund childcare spaces that currently exist and build more to fill the need of childcare that we are seeing in our state especially for low and moderate income families. I would also ensure we fully invest in early childcare teacher and staff programs. Every family should be able to ensure that childcare is provided as a right to all families.
5. The average salary of a California public employee is nearly $87,000, while the average salary of a California child care provider is $35,400, and most other professionals who work with kids are also below the public employee average. What are your ideas, if any, about responding to this disparity?
The salary of a California child care provider needs to match the cost of living in California. Every childcare provider should earn at least $87K to match the average salary of a California public employee.
6. The latest available data shows California ranks 49th among the 50 states in teacher-to-student ratio, 47th in school counselors, and 46th in school administrators. We also rank near the bottom in terms of school nurses, with approximately one nurse for every 2,400 students and no nurses at all in some smaller counties. What are your thoughts on these rankings, and what, if anything, should be done in response?
I completely am opposed to these rankings and believe that we should invest in our youth and schools over policing, the prison industrial complex and the fossil fuel industry. California with the most wealth of any state, should be #1 in all these rankings, and we need a Governor and legislators that will fight for it. I believe that educators should have adequate supports in the classroom to support these and all students’ needs. In addition I support making class sizes smaller to ensure the best instruction possible. I also support additional supports in terms of additional most up to date resources, technology and training to our teachers so that they feel as best supported as possible.
7. 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 should the State 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?
I believe that educators should have adequate supports in the classroom to support these and all students’ needs. In addition I support making class sizes smaller to ensure the best instruction possible. I also support additional supports in terms of additional most up to date resources, technology and training to our teachers so that they feel as best supported as possible.
8. Over the past 40 years, state spending on higher education has dropped from 18% to 12% of the state budget. What is your position on funding for public higher education?
I believe in tuition free public college and will fight for it. As a teacher who worked and still works with students in a low income community, I saw my students do everything right and still have to work nearly fulltime to afford the cost of college- this is unacceptable. I will fully fund public colleges in our California and work to defund the prison industrial complex. We need to be educating our youth, not strengthening and uplifting the school to prison pipeline. I have fought tirelessly next to so many advocates for a universal, single payer healthcare system in our state that will guarantee ALL healthcare (including all healthcare mentioned in your question) as a human right to all.
9. 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 important childhood screenings, especially for children of color. In addition, many California children lack access to oral health care, vision services, hearing aids, and mental health and substance abuse supports and services. What would you do, if anything, to increase access to these services?
I have fought tirelessly next to so many advocates for a universal, single payer healthcare system in our state that will guarantee ALL healthcare (including all healthcare mentioned in your question) as a human right to all.
10. The suicide rate among Black youth has dramatically increased in recent years. In addition, Major Depressive Episodes (MDE) among youth have grown, but only about one third of youth with an MDE received treatment. What should be done to ensure that more children receive needed mental health supports and services?
I believe that ALL schools at every level should be equipped with ALL services, including psychologists, social workers & nurses. Additionally, I support all healthcare being fully funded and free under a single payer healthcare system in our state- this includes the best mental healthcare available to all.