Why are you running for School Board?
Education is the cornerstone of our success and we need leaders to contribute and help lead our schools to be the best possible for our children, parents, teachers, and support staff. My top focus will be on Early Childhood Education, Cultural Competency, Responsible Educational Spending, Protecting Our Homeless Youth, and Promoting STEAM Education. If given the opportunity, I am committed to serving on the School Board for the maximum amount of terms and for as many years as possible.
Do you have children? What are their ages? Are they in the District? If so, what schools?
My 6-year-old is attending Rose Elementary here in the District. My 3-year-old and 2-year-old are in preschool. All 3 of my children will be educated in our Milpitas Unified School District.
What qualifies you to be a Board Member? Are you currently involved with the Schools/District?
In August 2019, I was selected to serve on the Board due to the departure of a Board Member. I served as an active Board Member until a special election was requested. As an active community leader involved with our Parent Teacher Organization, School Site Council, and parents’ delegate to represent them on the Community Board Advisory Council, I have a pulse on the issues that our District faces and this allows me to make better informed decisions as a Board Member. My volunteerism locally includes Habitat for Humanity, coaching basketball, and being a member of the Asian Leadership Network, the Milpitas Rotary Club, and the Bank of America community volunteer organization.
What are some things you see happening at our schools right now that inspire you?
The student achievement in all avenues continues to grow in our School District. We have two newly titled California Distinguished School Award recipients. We are a Golden Bell Award winner for the Love 4 Literacy early childhood education program. Our Milpitas High School Football team won the State Championship. We have a Spanish Dual Language Immersion program, and are planning to add other languages in the near future. The list goes on. We have a very successful School District which we have accomplished by constant adaptations to changes in our city and the education environment.
What needs to be improved in our District and how exactly would you improve it?
In order for our children to succeed, we need to improve the communication of the students’ progress between our parents, teachers, and students. The use of the Aeries tool has seen mixed adoption. The District is communicating to parents to check it, but not all teachers are using the tool. The disconnect needs to be corrected with additional training for low and non adopters. When we all collaborate on the solution, we are able to raise the bar successfully.
In the state of California, what’s the biggest challenge in public education?
The state mandated benchmarks don’t appropriately apply to each student’s potential. Yet our part of our state funding is attached to the benchmarks. In order to afford to run the School District in this high cost of living area, we are forced to chase supplemental funding instead of student achievement. That is why I appreciate what our current leadership is focused on with personalized learning pathways for student success.
What are your thoughts on the District’s plans for a second high school campus?
Our city needs a second high school campus. However it is expensive to build a traditional comprehensive high school. When the District polled the community they identified that the real issues are overcrowding, traffic, and location. Our city has an underutilized site at the old Ayer High School location off of Calaveras Blvd. Building extra classrooms that will be technology focused at a different location from Milpitas High School on Escuela Parkway is the right solution. It will shift up to 1,000 students away from the main campus without losing the benefits of being connected to all the services, clubs, extra-curricular activities that the students may receive.
The blackface incident over Halloween became national news, as you know. What are some ideas you have for promoting more inclusion and appreciation for diversity across our schools?
We cannot tolerate racism, sexism, or any form of discrimination within our schools and we can’t hide from the fact that it exists in our society. Education and celebrating our diversity is important. We have a very diverse student and teacher population. That is why cultural competency is one of my five key priorities. When we promote respect and understanding among all races and special needs for our students and teachers, we reduce bullying and instances of hate speech. Some ways are promoting ethnic studies that model our modern culture, encouraging multicultural events, and announcing a celebration of our ethnic heroes.
What are your thoughts or ideas with supporting the mental health of our students?
Mental health is a topic that cannot be ignored. We must bring it to the forefront because it impacts how our students learn in school and interact with each other. Unfortunately, many parents simply do not have the knowledge or resources to effectively deal with the mental health issues that their children face. Early detection is necessary to give our students the tools and resources to help them cope with the increasing social scrutiny in the age of social media. Training staff and parents and old-fashioned family engagement are keys to building the proper support system.
Any ideas on how to ensure that innovation is a key feature of our students’ learning here in Milpitas?
Each school site has a unique learning environment. Our district has been implementing various methods to deliver education to our students. We have the Spanish dual language immersion program that is expanding to include other languages like Vietnamese and Mandarin. In one elementary campus, we are introducing exploratory electives once a week. The new classrooms built for Mabel Mattos are community learning environments where each classroom is able to look into each other. At the high school, various AP technology focus courses were added. As a district we are unafraid to use new innovative tools to further our students’ learning. This must be the mission for any qualified School Board Member.
Is the District doing everything they can to promote safety across all campuses? If not, what else do you suggest the District do?
Our children have to feel safe and secure when they arrive on campus. There is physical safety and social emotional safety. Our children will only progress in a safe and secure environment. They have to be able to ask questions without judgement. The adoption of restorative justice has been inconsistent from school site to school site. The district needs to provide social emotional training to our educators so that they may empathize and challenge our students to be better citizens.
Do you see the arts as an important part of our children’s educational experience? If so, what ideas do you have to give students more experiences with the arts?
Arts are an absolutely vital part of our children’s education experience. Every student has unique gifts and abilities that must be encouraged and developed. Arts encourage creativity and vision. I strongly support and promote the balanced learning of Science & Technology, interpreted through Engineering and the Arts, all based upon Mathematical elements.
What is something unique that you bring to the table?
As a Director of Financial Investments and Governance in one of the world’s largest financial institutions going on for 14 years, I have a proven track record of responsible spending and risk assessment. I am a strong leader in my professional and social life and am not afraid to state my opinions and to give a voice to those who are underrepresented within our community. I am the hardest working candidate running for the School Board and will continue to dedicate my high level of integrity and commitment for the benefit of our great city. Partnerships with the Labor Unions, Corporations, Civic Leaders, and Parents allows me to bring in the support that our district needs.
What is something that not everyone might know about you?
I was socially conscious at an early age. In 1993, while in middle school, I joined the fight against Proposition 174. I understood at an early age the legislation would have created a huge divide in the ability for lower income families, like my family, to have access to better schools. My face was on the poster against Proposition 174 that we successfully defeated with an overwhelming vote by our residents. My parents still have that poster on their wall.
What do you love to do in your spare time?
Every “spare” moment is spent with my family. It is important for our family to support and build a hometown that they are proud of. We attend the Milpitas Community Theater, Milpitas Youth League games, Milpitas Holiday Festivals, Milpitas Library, and sample the diverse cuisine options our Milpitas community offers.
Anything else you’d like to share?
This is a very competitive election and there is a lot of passion. Rightly so because our children deserve the best and I am thrilled to see so much energy within our community. That being said, it is very unfortunate that there are some voices who have spread misinformation and have tried to divide our city. In the end, regardless of the results, we all have to put aside our differences and come together for the betterment of our children and community. We have to believe in inclusion and actively encourage the sharing of ideas and opinions. Our goal will always be what is best for our students and schools.
Where can people go to learn more about you?
Please visit my campaign website at: www.voteforngo2020.org
My Facebook page always has new content: www.facebook.com/voteforngo2020/
Contact me with any questions and concerns that members of our community have via email: [email protected] and by phone: (408) 800-6570.
And finally, what is your vision for the School District in the future?
Milpitas Unified School District being synonymous with the best in class. When people ask where you are from and you say Milpitas, the first response should be “you come from a great school district”. This will be accomplished with celebrating our cultural diversity, creating personalized learning pathways, and integrating innovative technology to support our learners’ passions.
The More You Know, The Further We Will Go, Please Vote for Minh Ngo.