Jennifer Esau

What ideas do you have to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children?

As a public school teacher for 19 years, I would focus on improving education for all students. I will work to increase educational funding so our children will have the resources they need to learn. Increasing educational funding would help pay our teachers adequately so our children will be taught by those who have a passion for the classroom. Funding for our classrooms will help lower class sizes. I teach in a Title 1 school with a high mobility rate. Due to significant funding cuts, we have been forced to cut many staff positions. Children in schools like mine need attention from their teachers. Their parents may work 2 jobs to make ends meet or live in a single parent household. By having more staff members, we will be able to give our kids the attention they need which is sometimes missing at home. When kids have positive relationships with their teachers, they will be more successful learners.

I would prioritize early intervention programs for all children with disabilities and for those children in high poverty areas. I would support programs and policies to combat hunger for our children. I would support increasing funding for the services provided by DHS including developmental testing and counseling services for children.

What have you done to support children prior to this election?

As a public school teacher for 19 years, I have advocated for students, teachers, families, and our community. Despite all the hard work, it hasn’t been enough to make significant change for our kids. I have made a difference in my classroom and now I’d like to make a difference on a larger scale. As an early childhood special educator, I have the pleasure of working with kids in the early intervention process. It is difficult to parent a child with special needs. I work together with the families to help them understand their children and how they can implement strategies at home.

What will you do to support families in your new role, if elected?

Many of our children are raised in the following situations: single parent households, in foster care, have an incarcerated parent. I would support policies and programs to help children living in these situations. Ideas include after school programs and improving funding for people who are willing to become foster parents. Many of our children come to school and have experienced different degrees of trauma. Many parents needs assistance with parenting skills. I would support policies that would help families work together to improve their family dynamics.

One of my priorities will be to support policies for criminal justice reform. We are incarcerating too many individuals and many times the punishment does not seem to fit the crime. This results in broken families and hurt children. We need to be providing treatment and rehabilitation programs to work to keep families in tact.