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education

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Mayor David Cardenas of Fowler wants his small city to be at the forefront of education. That’s why he spends his lunch break passing out fliers, urging families who can’t afford preschool to consider an alternative. His target audience is families with children who won’t be attending kindergarten until Fall of 2020. 

“We’re here because I’m trying to bring this program, but I want to make sure it’s going to be a program for young little kids,” Cardenas says as he drives from the local senior center to the Presbyterian church to drop off a stack of fliers.

Julie Leopo / EdSource

Skipping school, cutting class, senior ditch day - some consider truancy a part of adolescence. But looking at the data, one reporter found that students in rural regions have a much higher risk of being chronically absent from school, and the reasons aren’t so simple. David Washburn reported on this issue in a two-part series for the online publication, EdSource.

On the next Valley Edition: Fresno ranks low in terms of park access and acreage. But a grassroots movement is hoping to change that with citizens building their own parks. 

We also look at rural Tulare County as environmental justice groups showcase their efforts to improve water and air quality. And, we go on the road with some people whose California Dream is living in a van.

Later, we talk about student absence. It’s worse in rural areas, so what are some districts doing? 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Last week we brought you a story about high schoolers in Merced asking for a mental health class, and getting one. This week, moderator Kathleen Schock digs deeper into youth and mental illness with Christina Valdez-Roup, executive director of the Fresno National Alliance on Mental Illness, and teacher Abraham Perez from Edison High School. Perez has spent the last two years teaching a mental health class as part of the school’s bio-med career technical education pathway.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

When it comes to access to mental health care at public schools, California ranks at or near the bottom according to a Columbia University report. But one Merced high school is going against that tide with an entire course dedicated to mental health. Kids are responding so positively, they’re becoming advocates themselves.

Among those students is 18-year-old Jonathan Swart.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

  Educators in Madera voted overwhelmingly this week to accept a new contract offer from Madera Unified School District. Teachers there were on the verge of striking, but with this agreement, they have a short term fix.

On this week’s Valley Edition: The Valley air district is facing scrutiny for how it manages pollution from local industries. Air quality advocates wonder: How well is the program working?

Plus, Fresno County is considering the Voter’s Choice Act Model for the 2020 election, which could mean fewer polling locations, but more days to cast your ballot. We’ll hear from one neighboring county that’s already made the switch.

ACLU of Northern California

Attorneys with the ACLU filed a lawsuit Wednesday against a school district in Madera County, saying it violated two students’ right to free speech and right to anti-LGBTQ bias in California schools.
 

When Minarets High School students Steven Madrid and Mikayla Garaffa submitted their senior quotes to the yearbook, they thought they were being inclusive. But the yearbook advisor said their quotes were “politically divisive.”

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

The state has been charging companies for their carbon emissions since 2012, and last year, it gave some of that money to communities most affected by pollution, including Fresno. Some of it was slated for Southwest Fresno -- an area that has suffered high rates of poverty and perceived neglect from the city. The plan is to build a college campus with a portion of these funds, and some believe that education is part of the answer to turning Southwest Fresno's misfortune around.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

We’re at the start of another school year. And that means more than just a focus on basic academic skills. In Fresno County there’s a new push to address mental health and wellbeing. It’s part of a five year, $111 million dollar campaign that’s called “All 4 Youth” that’s bringing together the county’s office of education and the behavioral health department.

UCSF Fresno

For years, local medical and political leaders have been calling for a medical school in the San Joaquin Valley. Now the long-running UCSF Fresno graduate medical education program is getting a boost towards that goal. The university has announced that it is upgrading the Fresno program’s status to that of an official branch campus of UCSF. As Dean Michael Peterson told Valley Public Radio, the move is an evolution of the San Joaquin Valley PRIME medical education program, which had been run by UCSF, UC Davis and UC Merced.

A new report from a local education reform group is calling for big changes in the Fresno Unified School District. Called Choosing Our Future 2.0, the document is from Go Public Schools Fresno, calls for new personalized accountability measures for students, and for personalized student success plans.

TBC

According to a new report from The Bakersfield Californian's Harold Pierce, 10 teachers in the Kern High School District have been assaulted by students this year alone. Some suggest the number might even be higher. It's the latest news on a topic that has long plagued the district, which once was know for its high suspension and expulsion numbers.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

One of the most controversial and influential leaders of the Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees has announced he won’t be running for reelection.

 

Fresno Unified Board trustee Brooke Ashjian made the announcement outside of the district’s headquarters.

 

Christina Lopez

This weekend’s historic "March for Our Lives" rally saw hundreds of thousands of students gather from coast-to-coast and across the world in solidarity with students whose lives were cut short due to gun violence in their schools. This weekend, students from high schools across Kern County participated in Saturday’s rally that drew over 500 in attendance in west Bakersfield. FM 89’s Christina Lopez reports.

Hundreds of students from across Kern County high schools gathered along Truxtun Avenue for the March for Our Lives rally in Bakersfield.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A new bill in the California Senate would ban so-called "willful defiance" suspensions in k-12 schools throughout the state. The legislation (SB 607) comes amid a recent push from social justice organizations for schools to adopt "restorative justice" or PBIS approaches to school discipline issues, as well as a looming sunset for an existing law that bans "willful defiance" suspensions in grades K-3. While many youth advocacy organizations support the move, some teachers fear it could result in further problems.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Ten years ago, the city of Merced was ground zero for the housing crisis in California. Just a few years before that, the University of California’s brand new Merced campus opened outside the city, which arguably drove the overdevelopment that set up the city to fall so hard during the recession. Now, a decade later, the university has invested in the city with a new downtown building—but that’s not the only new development happening at UC Merced.

Christina Lopez / KVPR

Tuesday marks six days since a 19-year-old man walked onto a South Florida high school campus, opened fire, and murdered 17 people. Many students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have spoken out for stricter gun laws. Now students in Kern County are doing the same. On Monday afternoon, students from Bakersfield High School organized a rally in southwest Bakersfield in support of gun safety on high school campuses. FM 89’s Christina Lopez brings us this story.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Earlier this year, Kern High School District settled a lawsuit that alleged its schools were using discriminatory disciplinary practices to suspend and expel students of color at a higher rate than white students. As a provision of their settlement, they agreed to reduce suspensions and expulsions and incorporate more restorative justice into their discipline.

Christina Lopez / KVPR

 

High school seniors from across the country are checking their email inboxes this month, eagerly awaiting acceptance letters from colleges and universities. It can be an exciting and stressful time for anyone. But here in the valley, one group of students is ready. FM89’s Christina Lopez reports on one local program that is celebrating 25 years of helping make college dreams a reality.

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