Frequently Asked Questions

Bazzo for School Board 2020

How soon do you think our students should be back in the classroom? 

Nothing is more important to me than the health and safety of our students, we all know that we want our kids to return to school but need to balance that with the dangers associated with COVID. As a public health educator, I fully support the need to take advice and counsel from our public health experts at UCSD and other universities and medical groups in addition to our county health officials in making these decisions. Fortunately, these organizations across San Diego have a strong working relationship overall with the school district and other city leaders. The plan for reopening needs to be dictated by medical data NOT politics. We also need to be prepared in case there are future outbreaks once students are back and what that will look like as far as impact on schools. Additional funding will be essential in order to have enough nurses, mental health counselors, custodians and other staff to be prepared and ensure classrooms will not have to close down again.

 What would you do to bring equity and address diversity to the schools? 

The Black Lives Matter movement has moved this very vital issue front and center for our schools. There are many ways we could be better addressing concerns related to equity. One important component is to incorporate different teaching styles by including a pipeline to encourage more students from different ethnic backgrounds to go into teaching. I also support the inclusion of Ethnic studies curriculum which has recently been instituted to celebrate the impact on our lives by those of all colors and walks of life. Students perform better and have higher graduation rates if they can relate to their teachers and are interested in curriculum that they can personally identify with, making it more impactful. I also support instituting social justice programs districtwide that involve implicit-bias and conflict resolution training for all school staff as opposed to school suspension which impacts students of color at a much higher rate than their peers and has not been effective in resolving disciplinary issues.

What is Your Position on Charter Schools? 

I understand that the education of our children is a very personal decision based on one’s own background and experiences and that every parent should have the opportunity to be able to do what they feel is best for their child. Because of this I support charter schools that are offered as innovative alternatives in order to compliment traditional community schools rather than those that are simply a parallel system offering identical programs and ultimately draining funds from neighborhood schools. Charter schools should be expected to have the same transparency when it comes to student achievement as other public schools in addition to providing strong fiscal management. There are good charter schools that are seen as success stories within the district which I support, as well as others that aren’t. All of our public schools need to be held to the same level of accountability as well as being accessible to all students regardless of color, socioeconomic status and ability. That being said, I believe the primary focus needs to be on having strong public schools in every neighborhood. Our schools are not just a place for learning, many are the heart of the community offering places for students and families to come together. While the board has had some success in improving neighborhood schools, we still have a long way to go to ensure that all of our children have quality schools, regardless of zip code.

How would you propose to close the achievement gap for struggling students? 

We know that those families who have the least amount of resources are suffering the most during this difficult time. As a health educator with 25 years of experience in the San Diego community I believe very strongly in the importance of the whole child concept. If our students aren’t able to be balanced in one area it affects them elsewhere and can result in trouble at school. Making sure all of our students have access to quality healthcare and social services as well as strong family and community involvement is key. This framework requires all school staff to move beyond the idea of just focusing on academics and understanding all the aspects that are important to a child’s development. Just putting more money into a program is not effective if we aren’t looking at the bigger picture. Although the current school shut down has presented additional challenges, there are many opportunities that have also opened up with distance learning that were not previously available. Providing assigned laptops to every student can better address the challenges our most vulnerable students face. For example, we recently instituted a volunteer peer to peer virtual counseling program in the Mira Mesa community which could easily be replicated to other parts of the district at no cost. Blended learning, which combines the concept of classroom and at-home instruction includes many benefits including being able to offer more one on one and small group sessions. Furthermore, there will be a push to have more counselors and nurses on-site once schools reopen to address health needs, both mental and physical. These resources will prove to be extremely valuable in supporting children that are struggling.

How will you address projected school budget deficits? 

I will always do whatever it takes to approve a balanced budget. Keeping cuts away from students, particularly those with the highest needs and the least amount of resources, should always be the most important priority to keep in mind. However, we cannot continue to be in a constant state of financial crisis year after year. A long-term solution for comprehensive budget reform is required to provide more stability for public education. California ranks in the bottom 12 states in the country when it comes to how much we spend per pupil in our public schools. This is wrong and we need to do better. Therefore, my #1 task as a school board member would be to lobby the new federal administration in January 2021 to provide stimulus funds for our schools, working in collaboration with other large urban school districts nationwide in order to dramatically increase education funding. I also strongly support Proposition 15, the Schools and Communities First Initiative. It is not a complete solution to the budget shortfall but would go a long way in supporting this effort. Our schools need to be supported now more than ever as they are struggling to respond to the impact of COVID. This amendment will require the wealthiest corporations in California to finally start paying their fair share of taxes in order to invest these funds into our local public schools and communities. 
%d bloggers like this: