education

KVPR/Jeffrey Hess

A free public science education center is officially open in Northwest Fresno. The Highway City Science Center is moving into a community center that has been closed for 5 years since deep Recession era budget cuts.

The center is moving into one of the most underserved areas of Fresno off highway 99 in an area known as Highway City.

It will host science programing for children and adults, such as a fully assembled whale skeleton and electrical workshop.

Manuel Hernandez with the Fresno Parks Department says the center is a huge boost to the area.

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:

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.

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. 

Kern County Public Library

In Kern County, the state’s leader when it comes to oil production, the industry not only drives the local economy, it also helps drive the county’s general fund.

That’s because the county’s assessor puts a value on all of the oil that remains deep underground, and uses that figure when it comes time to collect property taxes. When the price of oil goes up, county revenues soar. But when the price of oil goes down, officials are left scrambling to cover the shortfall.

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.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition, we look at the the future of California’s state parks system. After years of budget cuts and closures, how should this treasured part of the Golden State reinvent itself? We hear a special report.

We’ll also learn more about a new program called Talking Is Teaching that focuses on early childhood education, and something called the "word gap." That's the estimated 30 million fewer words that children from lower income families hear compared to those from upper income families. 

Talking Is Teaching segment guests: 

Fountains For Schools With Limited Water Access

Jan 8, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

More than 100 schools in California's Central Valley will receive water purification stations under a new program designed to give kids fresh water instead of sugary drinks with lunch. Capital Public Radio's Bob Moffitt reports.

The California Endowment created the pilot project called "Agua For All" and has joined with three regional groups in the state to identify schools that need water fountains or water filtration systems. 

Sarah Buck with the Rural Community Assistance Corporation says 120 schools will receive new fountains.

Library For London Facebook

Rob Isquierdo is a man with an ambitious goal: to transform London. But he isn’t hoping to remake Trafalgar Square or give Big Ben a makeover. Instead, this high school English teacher is working to bring a library to London, CA a small unincorporated community in rural Tulare County.

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:

Fresno State

America’s public schools have been called a laboratory for society.  In this edition of FM89’s commentary series The Moral Is, Jacques Benninga of Fresno State’s School of Education says that if that’s the case,  teachers have responsibilities that go far beyond promoting academic achievement.

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Potential School District Reserve Cap Drives Debate Over Prop 2

Oct 9, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

This November, California voters will be asked to weigh in on Proposition 2 – the constitutional amendment that would create a state budget reserve. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, a little-known new law tied to Prop 2 has some school officials and parents upset.

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.

Fresno State / Jacques Benninga

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled in a case called Vergara vs. California that California education statues related to teacher tenure violate the equal protection laws of students, essentially depriving students of effective teachers by failing to remove ineffective teachers from classrooms.  In this week’s edition of The Moral Is, Fresno State education professor Dr. Jacques Benninga explores the teacher evaluation controversy and its reasonable implications.

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Marshall Tuck

While school has been out for many kids since mid-May, this summer has been a busy time in the world of education. Big issues like teacher tenure and the new common core curriculum have kept education in the headlines across California.

This week on Valley Edition we talked about those issues and more with one of the men seeking to become California’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction, Marshall Tuck. He will face off against incumbent Tom Torlakson on the November ballot.

Interview highlights:

On charters vs. traditional public schools:

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Back in the late 1990's, California voters passed Proposition 227, which imposed strict restrictions on bilingual education in California's public school classrooms.

Supporters of the effort said English immersion was the best way for English learners to succeed and assimilate into society. Critics said by teaching core subjects only in English, non-English speakers were at a disadvantage in the classroom.

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