Education

News about Education

KNITTYMARIE VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Fresno County continues to be plagued with high teen pregnancy rates and even higher STD rates in some cases among the worst in the state. With that in mind  local health leaders are urging one Valley school district to bring back sex education to the classrooms. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports even former students are speaking up.

Antonio Jauregui, 18, says his freshman year at Fresno’s Duncan Polytechnical High School was all about growing up. It’s also when he had his first romantic relationship and that left him turning to the classroom for information about sex.

Fresno Unified Website

The superintendent of the Fresno Unified School District says their use of a procedure known as lease-leaseback to build new schools is legal.

The district has come under fire for selecting a local construction firm, Harris Construction, to build the $37 million Gaston Middle School without going through a competitive bidding process.

Harris was chosen through a process known as Lease-leaseback where the district can hand pick a company who agrees to front the construction cost and then be paid back over time.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 A new bill in the California Senate could make sex education mandatory for middle and high school students. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.

If the bill becomes law, students will be required to learn about abstinence, sexually transmitted infections and contraception.

Right now, public schools throughout the state aren’t required to offer sex ed classes, but they are required to teach HIV and AIDS prevention. In recent years, Fresno Unified dropped its sex ed program due to budget cuts.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Parents often wonder how they can get their children to read and at the same time have their kids enjoy doing so. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, one library in Clovis is inspiring children to open up books with the help of a four legged friend.

“So who’s going to read first today? This is Atlas,” says Mary Catalano.

Catalano is at the Clovis Regional Library with her yellow Labrador named Atlas. The nine-year-old dog is laying on the ground surrounded by kids. 

Lance Johnson / Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user LanceJohnson http://www.flickr.com/photos/lancejohnson/5703722259/

Talk to most education leaders about the biggest challenges and opportunities in America’s public schools and the issue of so called STEM courses is sure to come up. It’s a fancy acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. According to the US Department of Education, job growth in STEM fields is projected to outpace the rest of the economy, in some areas like software and biomedicine, by more than double.

President Obama says STEM is a big education priority, in a speech to education leaders in 2010:

"Redskins" Bill Advances In California Legislature

Jun 17, 2015
Tulare Union High School website

Sports teams using the nickname “Redskins” are coming under increased pressure nationally to abandon the name. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, a bill at the state Capitol would make California the first state to ban public schools from using “Redskins” as their nickname or mascot.

The NFL’s Washington Redskins are the most prominent sports team with the nickname that Native Americans say is offensive. But they’re not alone. Public schools in many states have Redskins mascots. All face growing pressure to change their names.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

School districts across the valley are trying to figure out what to do with new money intended to help their most vulnerable students. But a letter from the State Department of Education raises questions about whether some of their spending on things like teacher raises is allowed. The interpretations of the new funding formula vary, based on who you ask.

The special funding, known as supplemental and concentration funds, is a big funding boost for schools to help the neediest kids, such as poor students, non-English speakers, and foster kids.

An agreement has been reached between the Clovis Unified School District and a Native American student who wanted to wear an eagle feather at his graduation this week.

Clovis High senior Christian Titman, a member of the Pit River Tribe, says he wanted to wear the feather on his graduation cap in honor of his heritage and religion. But after several requests, the school district banned him from doing so, saying it violated the district's graduation dress code.

City of Clovis

UPDATE: The Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to move forward with the new Clovis library project.
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The city of Clovis is known for its rodeo and its western themed downtown. Soon you might be able to add to that one of the largest public libraries in the valley. 

A new library, senior center and transit hub are all part of the plan for 5.7 acres on the fringe of downtown Clovis. Last year the city purchased the site on Third Street, which is currently home to an old lumber company barn for $2.85 million.

ACLU

In a recent court decision that some are calling historic, a Fresno County judge ruled that Clovis Unified School District’s abstinence-only sex education classes violated the state law.

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black found that the district’s abstinence- only curriculum failed to provide students with information that’s complete, medically accurate and free of bias.

Brooke Ashjian

Local schools have a lot on their plate, preparing students for life, a job and the possibility of a college education. But what about students who likely won't attend college? The answer used to be in vocational education classes, things like auto shop and wood shop. But increasingly those classes have disappeared from schools with the emphasis on standardized testing and college readiness.

Janet Napolitano / DHS

UC President Janet Napolitano visited the San Joaquin Valley last week, including a stop at the Del Rey farm of organic peach grower David Mas Masumoto, where she met with students.  The visit was part of the UC's Global Food Initiative Fellowship program. Valley Public Radio's Jeffrey Hess spoke with the leader of the 10-campus system about the project and the challenges facing the UC, including the current debate over funding and a potential tuition hike. 

University of California, Merced

UC Merced is running out of space to keep up with growing enrollment.  Now, the university is asking the UC Board of Regents to expand campus offices to downtown Merced. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.

The regents will vote Wednesday whether to approve $1.3 million dollars for construction of a campus administrative center in downtown Merced. 

Daniel Feitelberg, vice chancellor of planning and budget at UC Merced, says bringing offices to the downtown area is vital not only for the university but also for the city.

Education Funding Debate Begins At California Capitol

Feb 10, 2015
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California’s economy is on the rebound, but there’s little extra revenue to go around for the next state budget. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, there’s one area that will see a big increase in funding: it’s education. And that’s sparking a debate at the Capitol over how to spend the money.

Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature’s majority Democrats agree on the need to raise per-pupil K-12 spending. The governor also wants to set aside money for adult education and career tech programs. Here’s H.D. Palmer with Brown’s Department of Finance:

According to researchers at Rice University, children from high income families will experience hearing 30 million more words by age four than children of low income families. That’s from parents or others just reading or talking to young children, just describing the world around them. Researchers say this so-called “word gap” has big implications for brain development, educational achievement and long-term success.

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Last week President Obama announced a new proposal that would essentially make community college free for most students. The president spoke of the issue as extending the concept of a free public education from the K-12 grades to two-year colleges, as higher education has become increasingly important to the country’s job market.

EpiPens To Be Required At California Schools

Dec 23, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A California law takes effect January 1st that could expand the use of emergency treatment for kids who have allergic reactions in school. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento in the latest installment of our “new laws” series.

Mary Beth TeSelle never goes anywhere without an EpiPen, the anti-histamine auto-injector that can save a life during a potentially lethal allergic reaction. Her eight-year-old daughter has had a severe peanut allergy – since she was one year old:

Yes Means Yes Going Into Effect At California Colleges, Universities

Dec 23, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The New Year brings a new way of dealing with sexual assault at many California colleges and universities. In the first part of our annual new law series, Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

In 2015 any California college or university that receives state financial aid must begin using a “Yes Means Yes” approach toward sexual assault. That means both parties must give ongoing, affirmative consent during any sexual activity.

Just two weeks after the start of the semester, the President of Fresno Pacific University has resigned.

In a statement released from the university, outgoing president Pete Menjares said that he and his wife will be moving back to Southern California to be closer to their families and to explore new opportunities.

In the same statement, Board Chair John Thiesen said that Menjares modeled diversity and unity in his two and a half years as university president. Menjares’ wife, Virginia, was also very active in the community and often made appearances with her husband.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The results are in from the U.S. News and World Report’s latest college rankings: Fresno universities are both up and down from last year.

On a list of top regional universities in the west, Fresno State fell ten spots from 36th to 46th place.  When looking at just public regional universities in the west, Fresno State ranked 11th, down 3 spots from last year—behind such schools as Cal Poly and 4 others in the California State University system.

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