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For years, the California State University system has had a requirement that students be proficient in Algebra 2 as a pre-requisite for taking other general education math classes. That’s pushed many students into so-called remedial math classes, but it’s also led to criticism. Some say it’s a civil rights issue that blocks minority students from fields of study where Algebra 2 simply isn’t necessary. Others say it’s an important part of higher education.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Drive through the pomegranate and pistachio orchards between highways 41 and 99 and you may stumble upon Valley Teen Ranch, a cluster of residential homes where juvenile offenders come to be rehabilitated.

Today, a few men are in their living room playing a basketball video game and making small talk with Connie Clendenan, the ranch’s CEO. “I'm for the Warriors, don't we have them?” asks Clendenan. “I'm from Oakland, so yeah,” one of the men laughs.

A new non-profit group launched last week that has a goal to help guide the future of the Fresno Unified School District. Go Public Schools Fresno is the local branch of an Oakland-based education advocacy group. Led by Diego Arambula, the Fresno group says it hopes to build a constituency around making changes that will improve the quality of education in the district. So what does that mean, and what sorts of changes would that include? Arambula joined us on Valley Edition to talk about his background and vision.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Finding enough money to pay for child care is a struggle for many Central Valley families. But last year despite the region’s high poverty rate, Fresno County returned $10 million in unspent money to the state that was earmarked for child care for low-income families.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

When local school districts aren’t performing, parents typically turn to school boards or parent-teacher organizations to bring about change. But in one small Fresno County city, education advocates are thinking bigger, trying to enact a much bolder and more ambitious kind of transformation.

https://sonyachristianblog.com/2017/04/29/strengthening-kern-county-one-degree-at-a-time/

A new collaboration between the Kern High School District, Bakersfield College and CSUB aims to get students on a speedy pathway from high school to community college, and eventually a four-year college degree. It's called the "Kern Promise" but Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian calls it the key to revitalizing the community.

Kathy Bonilla / Fresno City College

Over the next decade the Fresno City College campus could undergo a big change, thanks to a major construction project. Around half of the $485 bond known as Measure C is dedicated for the campus. Voters approved the funding last year which will provide a new home for the school's math and science programs as well as badly needed parking space. College President Carole Goldsmith joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the plans, and how the school hopes to work with neighbors to make them a success, and efforts to tap into the city's goal of revitalizing Blackstone Avenue. 

CSUB

The CSUB Roadrunners are about to go running far from Kern County. Later today the school's men’s basketball team will take its game to the hallowed floor of New York’s Madison Square Garden for a spot in the final four of the NIT basketball tournament, playing Georgia Tech. It's a big moment on the national stage for CSUB. We talked with university president Horace Mitchell about the mood on campus, as well as last week's vote of the CSU Board of Trustees authorizing a raise in tuition. We also talked about new campus efforts to help students struggling with hunger and homelessness.

There some new developments in the unfolding story of alleged misuse of a confidential law enforcement database by members of the Kern High School Police Department and administration. Last week KHSD Police Chief Joe Lopeteguy, who is now on leave from his position, filed a lawsuit against the district. In it he claims that the district retaliated against him for acting as a whistleblower by exposing the district's alleged misuse of the system to investigate students and employees.

ESY Kern

There are a lot of efforts to bring health foods into school and the elementary school curriculum. One of the most interesting examples can be found in Bakersfield at Buena Vista Elementary School, home to something called an "edible schoolyard." A joint project of the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District and the Grimm Family Foundation, the Edible Schoolyard Kern program also has expanded to sites in Arvin and Shafter.

Brooke Ashjian

For the first time in a decade, the Fresno Unified School District is searching for a new superintendent. School board president Brooke Ashjian told Valley Public Radio in an interview on Valley Edition that he believes morale in the district is the "highest I've ever seen it" following the departure of longtime superintendent Michael Hanson on February 1st. Ashjian, who was one of Hanson's strongest critics reiterated his claims that the FBI investigation into district school construction practices is still active, contrary to statements made by the former superintendent.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mackenzie-mays-77053096

On this week's Valley Edition we are joined by the Fresno Bee's Education Reporter Mackenzie Mays. She covers Fresno Unified extensively and brings us an update on happenings in the district. To listen to the interview between VE Host Joe Moore and Mays click play above. 

Ian Oliver / Lindsay Unified School District

As we approach 2017, smartphones and Wi-Fi networks may seem practically universal. But even now, there remains a digital divide—and many San Joaquin Valley residents find themselves on the side without internet access. A new community effort, though, is bridging that divide, in what may seem an unlikely place.

Nikolaus Namba is a school district administrator in the town of Lindsay. He used to be a teacher—the Grinch on his tie is a dead giveaway.

“I’m still living in a land of being a child at heart,” he laughs.

Hank Hession/Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Last week the Kern High School District Board voted to approve a plan to allow teachers with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns on campus. The move was controversial, both because of the topic, and also the last minute nature of the meeting and vote. Harold Pierce of the Bakersfield Californian joined us to talk about this story and other news regarding the district.  

The Youth Orchestras of Fresno and the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles will share the stage of the William Saroyan Theatre in Fresno this Friday night at 7:00 PM. YOOF director Julia Copeland joined us on Valley Edition to talk about why this event is important for local efforts to expand orchestral opportunities in the valley for underserved communities. 

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