Meet the school board candidates – Patti Jones

Rather listen than read? Go to https://youtu.be/F8p_eqJ7YJA to check out our full recorded Zoom call with Patti Jones. Timestamps for each topic of discussion are located in the description of the video.

So we’re going to start by asking you to introduce yourself and your current occupation.

Okay. Great. Thanks. Yes. My name is Patti Jones, I live in the Westlake area of Thousand Oaks, and I am a full time mom and I have been for 27 years, and I’ve been volunteering in schools for the past 23, I have seven children.

So, why are you running for school board and what are some areas of concern you hope to address?

Yeah I’m running for school board. Basically I started attending school board meetings early 2019, I just started going to one of them. I kind of watched the school board meetings. I watched the parents’ reactions, kind of talked to the parents and I noticed some concerns. And so, after doing that for a year and a half, I realized that people would benefit from a fresh perspective on the school board and the parents were looking for a fresh perspective, I have a lot of children and you know, I’ve done a lot of work with schools and. And so I felt like I could bring that perspective in a way that would help the parents. And also, I’m a pretty open minded person, I feel like I connect, I was hoping to really bring unity on the school board and kind of bridge the gap between the school board and parents.

So, multiple candidates have expressed respectful school board meetings as one of their priorities as they’ve been running, do you have any thoughts on that?

Yes, I do. Yeah, I feel like that’s, that’s definitely one of my highest priorities is respectful school board meetings. And what I think would help is just really more sense of community on the school board, more sense of that, you know, we are going to do this together we are going to work together and we are going to disagree. I mean that’s just a fact we’re all different, and it’s okay to disagree, but when we disagree, we need to listen to the other people, everybody, respectfully, and then you know we’re gonna have to figure out a way to cooperate and compromise and sometimes that means that we don’t get everything we want. I sound like a mom of seven kids, we can’t always have everything we want and so just learning to communicate and learn to cooperate. Learn to compromise, you know, have that sense of give and take and, and knowing in the end that what we’re doing is for the children and for the community and and and we want what’s best for the kids and so that’s going to be our goal.

What are your thoughts on distance learning and. Do you think there are areas of improvement for the district?

Oh yeah. Distance learning, what are your guys’s thoughts on distance learning? I would love to hear. I would love to be out, honestly, talking to the youth and finding out what their thoughts are but I have two kids, they’re in school right now, young people I should say they’re not children. My son goes to Thousand Oaks High School and I have another son that’s going to Los Cerritos Middle School, and I could tell you it’s challenging. I bet you guys would agree, it’s, it’s not the best but I am grateful for, for the teachers giving it their best shot, I really am. They are trying so hard to make this a really great experience and so I try not to complain because if I were a teacher, I wouldn’t want somebody complaining about me trying to teach from a computer in the middle of a pandemic I just want them to be grateful for what I was doing. And I think that, I think the best thing to do is that the parents need to stay involved and need to be positive and we need to just do our best to keep the kids online and feeling actively involved and also try to keep them in touch with their friends, and as best we can without, obviously, you know, getting too close.

And how would you address the issue of some students not having access to the necessary technology outside of school?

Yeah, I think the schools need to provide as much technology as they can. I think, I’m pretty sure that we were given extra funding for that. Like, it was a lot of money. And that extra funding needs to go to support kids, everybody should have access to, to a Chromebook or a hotspot. If they need earphones even that, that should be provided for everybody that doesn’t have one already.

What are some things that you believe the district should be doing to support students and teachers during this time?

I really think that they need to be reaching out and just asking the teachers how do you feel like this is going, are you connecting with your students, and especially, I feel like there needs to be an overall concern for what’s coming in on the dashboard. For example like, you know, how your kids’ grades look, how’s their engagement, you know, are they turning in their work, are they turning it on time, does it look like they understand what’s happening, and really just getting in there and I know it sounds like extra work. I, but I think it needs to be done because they keep talking, talking about addressing learning loss and really I feel like we need to address it right now. We need to just, you know, catch the kids right now, almost on a daily basis, and just bring it back up if they’re starting to fail.

So how would you feel about reopening schools at this moment?

My honest opinion, my honest and political opinion. Honestly, in all honesty, I really want to see the elementary kids back in school in cohorts. A and B so divide the campus. The kids in half, so half go in the morning and half go in the afternoon and then a cleaning crew comes in at lunchtime. I would love to see that next week. I think the elementary kids would benefit from going back to school immediately. And then I think just looking at the COVID scale looking at you know rate of infection right now I think just, you know, watching those numbers come down just a little bit more I would get the middle school kids and the high school kids in next, just as soon as those waivers come through. But you and I both know the waiver that we’re applying for is only for elementary school right now.

Another big issue that a lot of candidates have been talking about is the issue of racial equity and kind of a lack of inclusion on campuses. So, as a board trustee. How would you plan on promoting equity and inclusion on our school sites?

Oh yeah racial equity. Gosh, I hope that kids feel like they’re all equally treated, I really do. But after listening to that school board meeting where kids from Diversify Our Narrative are speaking I can tell that they don’t and that’s unfortunate, isn’t it? You know what I’d love to see? I would love to see everybody recognizing that we’re all there, we’re all just citizens, we’re all just people. And I think what it’s going to take for that to happen is I think we’re going to have to have more conversations about recognizing conscious and unconscious biases, I really do. Because they’re obviously still there, or the kids wouldn’t be talking about them. And, and when we, when we teach kids, and, and, teachers, administrators, staff, anybody. When we teach them to recognize those biases in themselves and to challenge them, like you know, I want you to think about, you know, the way you think about other people that may be different than you, I want you to think about the way you’re thinking about them and I want you to challenge that thought. Because, you know what, you shouldn’t be thinking anything different about them, than you’re thinking about yourself. And I think when we teach kids and adults, about conscious and unconscious biases, we teach them to challenge them and to stop, then I think things will get better, and until, until that happens I think people are still doing it, and, and I can’t stand microaggressions. You know, it’s just even eye rolling tongue clicking. They hurt. So I hope, I hope we can have more discussions and just raise awareness and that people will learn, you know, that we don’t shun, that we smile, we’re friendly, we’re kind and we treat everybody like friends.

How do you think the district is currently doing in being able to provide resources for all students to succeed and do you notice any areas of improvement in that area?

Yeah. I think we’re doing okay. Like I read over the Equity Task Force, and I thought it looks pretty good actually. You know, and I’ll be going over other documents, you know, and just looking at, you know, the resources that are available to, to reach out to students who, you know, maybe wouldn’t be considered mainstream students. And I think we’re doing okay and I do see a lot of room for improvement, especially if you look at some of our scores, it looks like sometimes there are certain groups of kids that are missing a lot of school, and I would want to know why, why are they missing school, are they sad, or do they feel the school isn’t meeting their needs? I’d definitely want to look into that more and also I really want to check in with the English language learners and for them to feel like that they have enough support, like, you know, do their parents speak English? If not, what support do they have coming up to them to help them make sure that they have access to everything, that they’re understanding everything, and that they have the tutoring and extra support they need.

Are you familiar with the English language learner planning program? And if you are, what are your general thoughts about how it’s working within our district, or whether it needs to be improved in certain ways?

Yeah, I looked over it, I did. I was looking, because I noticed the equity scores were not what I wanted them to be. You know, jumping in as a new candidate […] I’m not obviously the incumbent and just checking on all the scores I was like okay that I could see some improvement there. And so I was looking through the programs available and you know I really just want, like this BreakThrough program, I just really want to know if people are using it and like if it works, like I don’t, I don’t even know if people use the BreakThrough program and then there are others so I’m going through my notes. And there are other programs, there are other programs available for kids like after school. I heard that the kids, the English language learner kids were put into summer school. I want to know how many kids enrolled in that and how they felt about it, like if it was helping at all. Though at the last interview, I just told a story about a girl that I mentored. Her parents spoke very little English and so I just used to help her with her homework because her parents could not help her at all and she just lived next door to me and I helped her all the time. It helped her enjoy doing her homework too, because,you know, it’s tough if it’s a second language. Anyway, she moved away and we lost touch. Then her mother ended up driving by me one day, years later, and she stopped her car in the middle of the street and jumped out and said ‘I need you to come with me’. And so, I was like ‘okay’ and she took me to her house and she pulled out a picture, and it was her daughter. They had been totally impoverished, and her mother had spoken very little English, and she was really struggling. She pulled out this picture of her daughter, and she was a cheerleader at UC Santa Barbara. I didn’t even recognize her and her mother looked me in the eye and she said, “Thank you for helping my daughter with her homework.” And I realized that there are kids out there that are brilliant, brilliant brilliant people, and just that little extra help with language, that little extra help with homework, makes the world of difference.

When you’re talking about the BreakThrough program can you clarify, like, which program that is and how it works?

Okay, so yeah so if you go on the district website and you look up special help for kids who might need extra, the first program that comes up is called BreakThrough. It’s a student six Student Assistance Program and it’s just supposed to help students get the resources they need so you can apply. You can go onto their website and you can sign up to BreakThrough and then you can meet, you know, students and parents can meet with a district according to the website and get extra help, extra resources, it looks like maybe some tutoring, just depending on your need. But like I said, I haven’t tried, haven’t tried clicking on it and meeting with the person, but according to the website, it’s there.

What is your thought process when evaluating books for core literature titles?

Oh, that’s a great question. Yeah, I actually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English so I’m super passionate about literature. So every good piece of literature is going, if it’s a really good piece of literature that’s been around at least a little while it’s going to have literature about the literature. You’ll actually have all kinds of papers that have been written about it and just studies that have been done. It’s been dissected and you can go in and you can read what professors or teachers have, have discovered about that piece of literature and so what I look for in a piece of literature is I look for major thematic elements, I look for, you know, what motivates the characters and what, you know, what you’re going to learn from this book. Obviously we look at its reading level, its vocabulary level. And just, you know, just the overall audience reaction. And when you look at all of that you start to get a picture, you get an idea of the quality of the literature. And so, if it comes in, if a word comes in, that it’s like, super onpoint, it’s like it’s got a great message you know it’s had a great audience reaction and has awesome vocabulary and just the theme is amazing, like if it’s an empowering piece of literature, and I just want to emphasize ‘empowering’ like it’ll take a person and raise them to the next level, you know they’ve come out of that piece of literature more educated, more focused, more ready to, you know, do better in college and do better in life in general, then I’m going to look at that piece really seriously, and I do, I do review curriculum, that’s one of the things I do. I’m on a parent formed curriculum review committee and so that’s what I’m looking for: empowering literature that brings kids to that next level of life.

And do you believe that a diverse set of perspectives is represented in the required core literature list for CVUSD?

Oh, it’s such a good question. Um, you know, I really feel like I’m just I can’t tell you how grateful I am to Diversify Our Narrative for bringing this up and, and I really feel like that they’re working on it so I went to the last curriculum review and they introduced two pieces that they’re adding to the literature and I, and I really want to read both of them to see if they meet those standards that I just said. But I can tell you that they added a book last year called The Crossover. That was incredible. And, and that book, I hope every kid in America reads that book. And, and books like that we need. We need books that are, like I said, empowering and that are also written by, you know writers of diversity that represent different races and different cultures and that give the students a sense of belonging, like, you know, this piece of literature was written by somebody that I identify with. And I do think, I think that we do need more but I can tell you that the district’s working on it because I just went to that literature review maybe a month ago and they’re definitely incorporating more literature from people that everybody can identify with.

And how will you as a board member ensure that everybody’s voices are heard in the school curriculum?

I, I want everyone’s voice to be heard. I do, I’m just one of those people. I’ve just been like them. I love people, and I love to hear the different perspectives and just in the 23 years I’ve been volunteering I just, I’ve been mentoring kids. I have seven kids but I just love kids and so I’ve mentored kids from every, every kind of situation you can imagine. And what I say to them is, is that you can be whoever you want to be, if you, if you dream it and you believe that you can become it, and I tell them I said, if there are people who are acting like you aren’t going to be as successful as the President of the United States, or a Senator, I’m like don’t listen to them. Don’t you dare listen to them, you are going to be everything that you dream. If you believe it and you work hard and you’ve become it and then I’ve noticed that you empower students, they, they understand that they are part of American history, they are making history right now. And you just let their voice be heard, and they will make a difference. I don’t care what their background is, just give them their voice, and then listen, and they make a difference, but you have to listen and you have to empower them and give them their voice.

So CVUSD right now is out of compliance with the healthy youth act as a board member, how would you plan to adapt the curriculum to meet those requirements at the primary and secondary level education?

Yeah I know they’re out of compliance and it’s tricky, you have to read HB 329, which is, if you’ve tried to read it. Yeah, you might need, you might need some extra resources, it’s kind of tricky. So yes, being combined with HB 329 has been a hot topic and that’s one of the reasons why I got involved in school board level, just really delving into it and seeing what 8329 means. So, I don’t know what the questions you’re gonna ask me in the future. So 8329 doesn’t require any, any curriculum extricated through them for through K-5, it just doesn’t so that’s a conversation for another time, but as far as the rest of the grades six through 12 there are some things that we aren’t currently teaching that we do need to upgrade and also parents, they really want to be involved with that upgrade a lot. I don’t know if you’re aware that they already wrote their own curriculum, Mr. Lichtl and some other people wrote their own curriculum, and they presented it and I reviewed every single page, like, I mean I sat down because I am an English major and I do edit, I do. Just read through things really carefully and I read every page and it wasn’t ready. It wasn’t ready yet so I can guarantee you that while they’re working on that I continue to review whatever they give us and I’ve also looked at other curriculum for the Healthy Youth Act. The important thing is that parents stay involved and they didn’t feel like they’re being included and they did get upset. And so the important thing is just while we’re doing this process while we’re picking new curriculum for the Healthy Youth Act to just make sure that everyone’s rights and opinions are being respected and that nobody feels like their authority is being overridden, but that they’re, they’re included in the process, and just keep up with it I think that, as far as I know they’re still working on the new curriculum.

What’s your opinion on including LGBTQ and non binary gender topics into that curriculum?

Yeah. Okay, so we’ll just have, we’ll just have monitors tuned conversations. Just so you know, my oldest daughter, gosh, 15 years ago we realized that she had gender dysphoria and it really wasn’t a thing 15 years ago. There’s just very few people so we kind of did this ourselves, my daughter and I. And I can tell you I didn’t know that much about it and I, and I had to learn a lot and I really can tell you that kids who are going through gender dysphoria and are starting for the first time, to experience same gender attraction, a lot of times they don’t know what’s going on and it can be a little, it’s just disorienting. Some kids don’t like it, some kids, that doesn’t bother them, every kid’s different. And so, just including a curriculum where you just help the kids to understand, you know, what’s happening possibly. Just, it’s, you know, it’s hard to even say that. I, you know, I did this with my daughter for 15 years and I can tell you after 15 years, she still doesn’t understand what’s happening, but I can tell you that kids who are experiencing this need a support group, and they need to feel like people still love them and care about them and they need some explanations going on. Just so they don’t get so super confused and then they don’t want to talk about it because they feel like nobody would understand. And if there are kids out there I’d just love to send a message to the kids out there that are going through this for the first time if they’re just now starting to experience gender dysphoria where they start to feel uncomfortable in their body, I just urge you to talk to somebody about it and get help. It can be a little scary. It can be a little uncomfortable, and especially with my daughter after 15 years, it’s still a struggle. So you want to know that people are willing to reach out to you and love you and accept you.

Is it true that in October of 2019 you made a public comment at a school board meeting where you were citing studies on gender dysphoria and talking about teaching kids to accept their own bodies?

So I made a statement about my daughter so here’s what happened. So, I’m at the school board meeting. They had said they weren’t going to teach any curriculum at all, K through six, because it wasn’t required under a b 329. And so I said, you know, I really appreciate you sticking to that commitment, which they were. That’s another story. Anyway, the statement I made was that my daughter experienced gender dysphoria when she was younger. And she decided to identify as male for three years, and I supported her. I said we’re going to do this together, and we’re going to take it one day at a time. I said so today we’re going to go get you some new clothes. And so we went out, we went shopping. We were at Old Navy we’re like at one side of the clothing rack. I’m like, are you interested in anything in this aisle and she said no. And so I turned around and I said, how about this one and we were in the boys section and, and I said, Do you like this shirt, and she said yes and I’m like, oh, I’ll lose it. And so I bought her, I bought these beach t shirts and jean shorts and, and she loved it and she just, she just dressed like a boy for three years and she was so happy and then something happened and I just thought, you know, I said whatever you decide when you’re adult, you know, I’m going to respect your decision and I said let’s take this one day at a time. So when she was 17, she decided she liked being a boy, she’d done it for three years. And she didn’t like it. I said, Oh, okay. I said, What do you want to try being a girl, again, and she was like, I like girl clothes and I said, Okay, I said why don’t we buy clothes, just for you and so we went out again. We went shopping again, we bought her own new clothes again and she ended up dressing like a cowgirl. I wish she could go, I wish she could come up and talk to you. She just wore bootcut jeans and button up shirts and she had a brown leather jacket. And she just looked fantastic and we sent it to a new school and she started all over again with another new nickname. She goes by Misha, which is a boy’s name and Russia but sounds like a girl’s name in America. And she just found herself, and I just said you know what, I said how about this. I said why don’t you just be you, and she said why don’t I just be me, and I said why don’t you just ignore everybody that tries to stereotype you, and she’s like yeah, and I said how about you just be yourself. And if people try to pigeonhole you and label you and tell you what you are or you aren’t you can say, Hi, my name is Misha. Let’s be friends. So, If you ask her today, she’s actually visiting me, if you ask her today, she’s 28 years old, if somebody tried to pigeonhole her, and, and, and nail her down label her and say, What are you, a boy or a girl she would probably tell you I like being both.

Just to clarify, are you against starting to talk about gender identity in school in the K through six level or K through five?

So what I think needs to happen, so I realized that I have a completely different perspective from other people because I did, because I’ve done this. So, what you have to do is, in my opinion, you have to let the kid lead the conversation and I’ll tell you why. If you had told my daughter in kindergarten, that she may have accidentally been born, the wrong gender or accidentally assign the wrong gender or in some way that she was that something went wrong. She would have been very upset. And she may have not made that, I don’t know how to say it, she may not have made it to 28. Let’s just say that because I asked her, I said this is a curriculum they’re using at Oak Park. I’m like, you have gender dysphoria, you were identified as male for three years, you know, I don’t. With this curriculum that they’re using an Oak Park, would that have helped you? She said no way, she said, “Mom, I was already confused enough if you told me I’d been born in the wrong body I wouldn’t have known what the heck to believe.” So, that’s what she said. So what you need to do is you need to stop stereotyping kids. That’s what needs to happen, if you start laying down the line well if you like this and you wear that then maybe you’re a boy, or maybe you’re a girl or maybe, maybe not. You need to ask the kids so how about this. How about you, let the kid tell you what they like and what they like to be called, and how they prefer to be referred to. And how about [being] really respectful of that. And then we don’t try to make them be something that they don’t feel comfortable being or doing, we just need to respect them. It’s really, it’s really about being respectful and reaching out and also helping kids to understand that this is something that happens gender dysphoria is a real thing, and you know if that’s happening to you you know let’s talk about it, let’s talk about what you feel comfortable wearing, let’s talk about what you feel comfortable being called and, and I got a lot of conversations with teachers about that by going into the classroom, before school started and say to the teacher, “Okay, let me see your school record okay that shows my daughter’s birth name, I’m like I just want you to know that she will never respond to that name. And we would cross it off, and I’d say, this is, this is her name that she goes by and we’d write that in, and I’d say I can guarantee you that she won’t respond to as you call it by that other name so please don’t.” So my daughter didn’t care about her pronouns, she didn’t care if people called her boy or girl she didn’t care. But if a kid does that would be the time to tell the teacher okay and then I, you know, and then I want you to [refer to them] as he or she or, and you know, please, be respectful and then just be respectful of what they’re wearing or what they like to do or what they like to talk about. Don’t you know you don’t have to go. I know they’re every girl, but like it doesn’t matter just let them be themselves and, and help them be the best selves and help the other kids to treat them kindly too.

In terms of the conversation of Hey gender dysphoria is a real thing and like helping. Finally, do you think that that should be part of the elementary curriculum that conversation as opposed to maybe whatever curriculum they’re using in Oak Park.

Yeah, yes, absolutely like helping kids to understand. I’m just helping kids understand what it is. How do you do that because you’re talking about kindergarteners here. I wish you guys could have been there, and realizing that this was 15 years ago before it wasn’t a thing I had people say to me, “You can’t do that and I go, I can’t do what and like you can’t let your daughter do that, whatever, or girls, girls don’t do that. That was a big one girls don’t do that,” and I’d be like, “Well, well this one does. So apparently you’re wrong.” And just having conversations like that just breaking down stereotypes if you ask my daughter. What makes it impossible and she will say gender stereotypes make it the hardest thing she said if people would stop stereotyping, stop making assumptions, stop labeling, stop being biased. She said if people would have stopped doing that, I honestly could have just been me and it would have been totally fine. And she has great friends Today she does, she has friends that are really really accepting and the Don’t try to label her. She doesn’t like it. She doesn’t like being labeled by anybody she didn’t like being labeled by the LGBT community as non binary, she hates that she, she doesn’t want to have to be defined rigidly she wants to be yourself and I really think kids who are going through gender dysphoria, you shouldn’t label them. I really don’t. I can tell you my daughter hated it. That she just wanted to be able to be herself and be respected as herself. The way she felt comfortable without people trying to put her in a box and trying to figure out what she was, it’s not what she is. It’s who she is. Her name is Misha, she’s a photographer and an actress. She’s amazing.

How do you feel about comprehensive sex education?

We don’t live in a bubble here. So of course I would in my home, and I do recommend abstinence, I do. When you’re in a school setting, you have to talk about everything you just do, because, let’s face it, kids need to know the facts right and so you do you have to talk about everything, but I’d be careful. I would be careful to be respectful of everybody.

What are your thoughts on social emotional learning in the classroom, like teaching self awareness self management relationship skills decision making?

My daughter is studying psychology. Yeah, kids really need to know. Oh, you really need to know how to know, be aware of themselves and, you know, how they’re feeling, and how they’re reacting to situations and how they’re reacting to other people. It’s really, really important and I think also just being aware of your surroundings and how to respond to people, you know you’re going to be met with so many different people at school with so many different personalities and viewpoints and just learning how to respond and learning how to feel confident like being assertive without being rude, is really an important skill.

What is your opinion on cvusd social emotional specialized program such as self contained classes for students with certain disabilities

Okay, so my honest opinion. Um, my daughter was in an inclusion class in another district and all he could talk about how great it was like how great it was for the kids, the mainstream kids how great it was for them. They had 20 kids in the class, 15 of them were the mainstream kids. And then there were five special learners in the class. They’re all different. For all different reasons all different, you know, levels, and they just, I can just tell you that the kids thrived when they were put in an environment where it was called positive peer modeling, where they saw other kids their age. You know what they talked about their behavior and everything and that just, it really really changed the way they reacted to situations it was pretty incredible. So the kids were taught, and obviously there are two teachers: there was the mainstream teacher and then there was a special ed teacher, so the two teachers in every class, and the inclusion ones and then the kids were taught to not to just be positive role models but to actually be yours in a way like, you know, can you hold their hand when they’re frightened or can you walk them to this place or can you help them. They would sometimes work in the garden together, can you help them with their work. And so what ends up happening is that all the kids learn to work together as a community which is what you want in adulthood a real life scenario. And the kids who may have never met somebody that had a special need were now, not only meeting them, but they were learning how to work with them on a very personal everyday level so that in going into adulthood, that that was one of the skills they already had mastered is working with people that were very different that may have a special need and, you know, being considerate and learning how to be friends with somebody that is different than you.

How do you think that the district should best support students struggling with a lot of stress and anxiety surrounding school?

So sometimes kids need counseling, they need therapy and you know there are counselors at school, but sometimes kids need their own, they need their own therapist, like an outside therapist. Definitely, the kids should be allowed to have access to their own therapist, if, if they do have one and even if that it needs to come on campus but I do think that we need to be providing psychological support or emotional support for kids on campus.

I was on the student district Advisory Committee for about a year and one term I heard it thrown around a lot was like high school is a pressure cooker there’s all this pressure to like take every AP class and take every honors class and push yourself. Until you drop. And so, how do you think that we could kind of combat that culture of taking as many AP classes as possible at our school sites?

Well we could talk about that all day. My older kids were at a different school where there was a lot of pressure just to take AP classes. One of my children took nine. Nine AP classes, it was like they went into college as a sophomore. And it was crazy yeah and I, I have to tell you I just didn’t think that was always the best thing, maybe a few kids can handle that. And so I would, I would tell kids, you know, you definitely want you know you want to look at the college you want to go to and what the requirements are, you definitely want to have that on your radar all four years of high school, but I wouldn’t take so many AP classes that you couldn’t sleep right there. Kids are doing that, there’s no time to sleep. There’s no time to spend with your friends, there’s no, you know ,there’s no time to relax because I actually went to high school with a kid that pushed himself so hard that he started losing the pigment in his skin. True story. He started losing the pigment in the skin and we’re like what happened. I told my kids just wanted to pick your AP focus, you know, maybe two or three. And then you can do those and then it’s okay to take CP classes and it’s okay to be well rounded, make sure that you know you’re doing something physical, maybe something musical whatever you enjoy but getting sleep at night. Right. I think kids need to get sleep.

Do you think that like that should be something that’s regulated by the district like how many hard classes you can take or just something that students need to self regulate.

You got to self regulate, you got to let them choose. Yeah, that’s the thing. But I’m a huge proponent of letting kids make decisions because they learn, they learn when they decide things for themselves. So what you do is you teach a kid correct principles, and then you let them. You let them govern themselves, you let them choose as long as it’s safe, I should say, as long as it’s safe. If they’re choosing to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Yeah, like I said, [my son] took nine AP classes. He did really well. I had a daughter that also wanted to take those nine AP classes and I’m like I said I strongly recommend not doing that, you’re going to be exhausted. And she did it anyway and she learned something from it. So, but really just making those recommendations looking at the amount of sleep they’re getting, like how exhausted they’re getting, how much peer interaction they’re getting, and just saying maybe some recommendations. I might recommend that you might scale back next year of course it’s up to you but I definitely make your recommendations.

What would be your top priority for spending in the district? Do you think that the district because they’re allocated funds.

Well I’m always gonna say curriculum. I’m always going to want curriculum, but I have to tell you, I like to keep teachers happy, because I realized that a good teacher is hard to come by. So, I usually say curriculum, I want the best curriculum we can get always, and that’s just me. I would go in, literally in my kids elementary school classes and I go, “What curriculum are you using?” to the teacher. I go, “Please let me look at it,” and then I go, “Okay, this is not good curriculum.” I’d say you got to ask for something better, the kids don’t learn from this kind of curriculum and then if it was really good then I’d say, “All right, can you go back and tell the district that this actually works and let’s stick with it.” I definitely make sure that the teachers are given way so that they feel comfortable with, we obviously can’t afford to overpay them but I want teachers to know that we that we appreciate them and we’re grateful for everything that they do and that they’re very few ways that we can actually show our gratitude, and then I’m really glad for the bond money that we’re using to upgrade facilities. I’m so grateful for it and I know there have been a couple concerns about the bond oversight and the reporting and accounting and I really hope that that slipped into that money’s important for facilities and so those are definitely my priorities.

With COVID and everything, how would you address the low funds given for custodial services and cleaning supplies?

We should have been given funding to help with that for COVID and I was told that we were getting extra funds specifically to address those issues, the custodian issues and the cleaning issues that would need to be addressed. Because of COVID there’s going to have to be more cleaning if the kids go back to school.

Why do you think CVUSD is facing a declining enrollment and how do you think you can combat
that?

I’m trying to be diplomatic and there’s definitely some discord. There are some feelings in the district that their parents’ voices aren’t being heard and that their children’s needs aren’t being met. And I’m working on that. So one of the reasons why I’m running for school board is because of all the parents that have talked to me. I started going to school board meetings, like I said, a year and a half ago and really what I did is I went to the school board meeting and I listened to the parents. I listened to what the parents had to say. And then I have some pretty legitimate concerns so I sound upset. Also, and then I listened to the responses from the school board. I sometimes try to bridge that gap. For example, I helped form the California Parent Alliance. So after doing this a little bit I realized that there was definitely a disconnect between the school board and the parents and it was huge. And so I helped form the California Parent Alliance, you know, we jumped in and tried to bridge the gap. And then I realized that one of the problems was the curriculum. The parents kept getting really upset about the new Healthy Kids curriculum, about the new books being introduced and so I just jumped in to try and review, you know, and try to dispel any misunderstandings or any hurt feelings. Anything I was just trying to bridge the gap and it just wasn’t working and the reason why is because I’m not on the school board, because I was just not, I was just another one of the voices talking in open comments and my husband finally said, “You’re not making a difference this way Patti.” So I decided to try to get on the school board, because I am a parent, I do have kids still in the district. I have been listening to the parents and I know what their concerns are. They’ve been telling me for the last year and a half. They’re very upset that their voices, they don’t feel like their voices are being heard. And so, the declining enrollment. People tell me every day why they left. It’s really sad. They come right out and tell me. They’re like, “Well I’m glad you’re running for school board Patti and I’ll support you. I’m a voter in your area but I already left.” And, and they tell me why they left and I don’t want to say anything negative so I can just say that the declining enrollment is from parents that are disgruntled, they’re mad. And they didn’t feel like their voices were getting heard and they didn’t feel like their kids were being met and so they went other places and there are other places to go unfortunately. There’s charter schools, private schools, homeschool, neighboring districts I’ve heard it all. They just so my plan is a lot of people. This is so odd, there are people who are waiting to see if I get on the school board, because they think they hope that if I get on the school board, and I start listening that they have a chance and they might be able to stay.

Do you have any plans on boosting student voices in the district?

I love to hear from the students and I’m so grateful that we have the SDAC. I am so grateful that we have a student trustee, isn’t that amazing? I’m so grateful that our students come in and speak at the school board meetings. You know what I want the students to know? I want them to know that they’re, they’re almost adults and they have a voice, and that it needs to be heard, and I hope our students would feel like they can come in and speak at the board meetings so that they can write, send messages to the people, the trustees on the school board and I hope they feel like their voice would be heard, if they did speak. I do value the opinions of young people a lot, because I just know that our future is dependent on the people who are in school right now that our future is in their hands.

So to end our topic on student voices, I just wanted to ask what is your position on lowering the voting age.

I probably would keep the voting age at 18. If you want to know my honest opinion. I don’t want to say anything that isn’t honest. I would probably keep it at 18, I would think I would want kids to have to finish high school and graduate from high school, and have the full and have their entire education under their belt before they started voting.

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