News about Education

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The head of the Fresno Unified School District is coming under fire after claims that he instructed his staff use a cell phone app that sends messages without leaving any trace. That practice could raise ethical and legal problems for district superintendent Michael Hanson.

Journalist Mark Arax was the first to report that Hanson allegedly used the Cyber Dust app which claims it leaves no record of any of the messages sent or received.

Tulare Union High School website

Public schools in California would be banned from using ‘Redskins’ as a team name or mascot under a bill headed to Governor Jerry Brown.

Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo says it’s time for California to restrict what many consider a racial slur.

Alejo: “The ‘R word’ was once used to describe Native American scalps sold for bounty at a time when our state condoned the killing of native peoples. Such terms have no business being used as a mascot in our public schools or otherwise.”

Today marks the first day of class for Fresno State students. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports the university is now offering services specifically for undocumented students.

The Dream Outreach Center is a place where undocumented students, known as "dreamers", can go to get help in their journey to and through college. It’s the first time Fresno State is offering this type of help to incoming and currently enrolled students, whether it’s filling out applications or financial aid paperwork.

Raul Moreno is the coordinator.

As students head back for another year of school, one small district in the valley is on the cutting edge of education. The Lindsay School district has eliminated grades and grade levels. School leaders say the scheme has transformed education.

Its 7:30 a.m. on the first day of school and students at the Lindsay High School re-connect with friends and wait for the bell to ring.

The roughly 1,000 students are part of just a handful of districts in the country using a system called Performance Based Grading.

Lance Johnson / Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user LanceJohnson

When UC Merced first opened its doors in 2005, campus enrollment was just 875 students. Now a decade later, over 6,000 students attend the newest University of California campus, and thousands more are being turned away. As the only UC campus in the San Joaquin Valley, campus leaders hope to expand the number of available slots to over 10,000 by the year 2020 to meet growing demand.  

Clovis Unified

Floyd Buchanan, the man who built the Clovis Unified School District into an educational powerhouse has died at age 91. FM89's Joe Moore reports his work not only helped shape thousands of young lives, but also both the cities of Fresno and Clovis.

Known by many as "Doc" - Floyd Buchanan was a charismatic and visionary leader. The first superintendent of Clovis Unified, he saw the district grow dramatically during his tenure from 1960 to 1991. 

Buchanan emphasized both academics and athletics, but regardless of the venue his personality set a tone for the district. 

Eric Paul Zamora / The Fresno Bee

There’s a controversy brewing in Fresno that has school districts up and down the state watching very closely. It all has to do with how districts spend taxpayer money when they build a new school. Traditionally districts would build up reserves or bond money for a new school, and then put the project out to bid for design and construction. The lowest bidder typically would get the job.

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

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.

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.


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: