I work for a higher education institution (Coast Community College District) and I understand that councilmembers do not have authority in local school systems, but can do several things to promote and enhance educational opportunities. We can lead by bringing our community together to enable teachers, parents and schools to focus on their highest goal, which is helping our children learn. There are several things I would do on the City Council to promote educational opportunities at the primary, secondary and higher education levels.

1. Invest in preschool programs. Quality childcare and early literacy. One of the most effective ways we can improve academic success is preparing children to learn before they enter school. We should work to encourage the opening of more quality childcare centers in Tustin and should work with the Tustin Library to train childcare providers about reading development and the importance of early literacy.

2. Keep schools safe. Tustin is already a safe city, but we have to work to maintain that status. The city should encourage the sustainability of strong partnerships between the City of Tustin, Tustin Schools and the Tustin Police Department to continue the work of preventing and managing catastrophic or violent events at schools.

3. Provide quality after-school programs to extend the school day. Students with positive after-school activities do better in the classroom and stay away from crime, drugs and alcohol. Tustin should invest in a broad range of after-school recreational and enrichment programs to benefit schools and students. My kids attend the Boys and Girls Club of Tustin and I believe this to be a great after-school program for them. The city should work to strengthen the partnership with the Boys and Girls Club to enhance programs as well as support new and different programs in the city.

4. Build strong relationships with school district leaders. Tustin has had a history of strained relationships between the city and the school district. The relationship is healthy now, but we want to ensure that it remains healthy. I would like to increase and improve communication and coordination with City Hall and TUSD. Through regular high-level meetings between the City Councilmembers, the Mayor and Superintendent, we should continually work on healthy dialogue, sharing of insights and exchange of innovative ideas that help our children thrive.

5. Support efforts to improve school facilities. A community’s commitment to education can be judged by the quality of its schools and the quality of its school buildings. Poor infrastructure interferes with learning and teaching. Although many of our schools are newer compared to other districts, we must stay on top of the facility needs of our schools. Councilmembers must champion school bond campaigns when investments are clearly needed.

6. Talk about education. If elected, I believe that I can utilize the platform to strengthen public support for quality public education. As a Tustin Councilmember, I would utilize my relationship with civic leaders, fellow elected officials, businesses, community organizations and the media to ensure that education stays at the top of the public agenda, so that we can celebrate success of education as a community and achieve results that benefit our students.