The Alhambra Source reached out to each candidate, asking for a biography, platform statement and a few reader-generated questions. The Source does not endorse any candidates nor statements.
Ken Tang’s entire life has been dedicated to service above self as evidenced by his career as a public school teacher, activism in the labor movement and commitment to his local community.
As a first-generation immigrant, he grew up in Alhambra and attended its public schools. He is a community organizer and a labor leader. Most importantly, Tang is a classroom teacher and a parent and he is running for school board because he wants what’s best for our schools, our students, our educators, and our community.
As a teacher, Tang has encouraged his students to view the world with a racial equity lens and to fight for social justice both inside and outside their school. Every year, he and his students select a charity and work to raise awareness and funds for the organization through various activities and fundraisers.
Outside of the classroom, Tang is a fierce advocate for his students and his fellow educators through his involvement in his local, state and national teachers association where he’s lobbied at all levels for more funding and better policies. In addition, Tang is also an active member of Garvey Education Foundation as well as his school and district’s PTA.
First, we must make safety and mental health a priority for our students and staff. Our schools have a shortage of nurses and counselors. Oftentimes our office staff and our educators are forced to act as first responders and counselors for our students when they may not be properly trained in these important roles. They do their best but it is fair to them or their students. I will work to ensure each school has at least one nurse and one counselor. I will make sure our educators are properly supported by the administration in all ways including their contractual rights, their well-being, and their access to the resources they need. We must provide for those who provide for our kids.
Second, information and decisions about district finances must be public and transparent. As you know, local control funding is critical for our public schools and the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) requires your input. I will make sure students, parents, educators, and other community members are part of this conversation and decision-making when it comes to school funding.
Third, the district must communicate and work with all the stakeholders in the community — our families, our students, and all our educators and staff in the Alhambra Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association. As a public school teacher and leader with the California Teachers Association, I understand how valuable and important the perspective of our educators is. I also know how critical community and family support is to our district. With me, you will always have a board member who will communicate with all of you regularly. I will always be accessible and listen to your concerns and input before taking action. We may not always agree on issues but you will always know where I stand and the reasons why I make the decisions I do.
The pandemic has greatly affected learning in our schools. How are you going to ensure that every student receives a quality education?
The pandemic definitely affected our schools. However, our amazing staff and teachers are doing an amazing job at creating an engaging and rigorous learning environment in the new Distance Learning. The curriculum hasn’t changed. Our methods of delivery needed the change. Our staff and teachers are working three times as hard to make sure our students’ quality of learning is not compromised. The real questions are, how can our students learn when they are faced with food insecurities, equal access with technology as well as dealing with this pandemic mentally, emotionally, psychologically and socially.
Our schools are short-handed as it is in the mental health department and we desperately need to repurpose the budget to make sure we take care of our families in need. My belief has always been Maslow’s before Bloom’s. Until we are able to provide the physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, and esteem needs, our students are going to have a difficult time reaching and achieving their full potential. Hence, I have not stopped my effort in gathering, collecting, donating, distributing and delivering essential needs items to our students and families.
Do you have plans for addressing the long-term effects of the pandemic on Alhambra’s schools and their students to ensure there is not a “lost generation”? Please explain.
The long-term effects of the pandemic on Alhambra’s schools and their students are yet unknown. However, we can see first-hand that all students, staff and teachers will need support with mental health and a sense of safety and protection. Other areas may include social needs to connect with people/friends/community as well as rebuilding the economic deficiency caused by this pandemic. My plans are to address the AUSD’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
First, we need to make sure all students, staff and teachers are taken care of with their basic needs like food distributions, school supplies and technology access. We can continue to work with community partners already in existence and expand on others to provide for these needs. We need to partner with organizations like NAMI to help with the mental health needs for our students, staff, and teachers.
Furthermore, we need to set up community forums for students, parents and community including elected leaders to collaborate on working out a plan to provide for safety needs like PPEs and other safety matters. We need to make sure we take control of the situation and empower our students, parents, staff, teachers, and community to collaborate on building a community school where people can come to get help for any and all matters. It definitely is a huge undertaking but when we come together and work collaboratively success is just around the corner.
What is your plan for increasing funding for AUSD schools? Where would you allocate these funds first?
First and foremost, I will continue my effort in getting Prop 15 passed. This will give AUSD another $11 million to work with. We need to look at grants and other creative and innovative ideas to bring revenues to our schools. We are in declining enrollment, thus, figuring ways to get students into AUSD would help immensely. We need to look to the City as partners in helping to create affordable housing to attract families to move into our neighborhood. It is quite expensive to live in Alhambra these days. Furthermore, we need to help our families find and secure jobs so they don’t have to move out of the area.
These desperately needed funds would be allocated to areas like mental health for students and personnel, safety in providing adequate PPE and other precautionary measures like cleaning and disinfecting equipment and buildings and equal access to basic and technology needs.
What recommendations would you make to the district when creating the curriculum for its social justice and equity training program for teachers and administrators?
I feel strongly that we need to implement a true ethnic studies program taught by qualified trained teachers and make it part of satisfying our Social Studies A-G requirements for our high school students. We can give incentive for our current teachers to get trained to teach such programs and to mentor other teachers in the lower level like elementary schools. Social justice and equity needs to be embedded in all curriculums from PreK-12 and built as a culture of the school district.
This can be accomplished with expert guest speakers in the schools. These speakers can be community partners from social justice and equity organizations. This will entail getting all stakeholders (all school personnel, parents, students and community partners) to go through an unconscious bias training. Building a culture of social justice and equity will be so much better than making it a curriculum.
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