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education

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Chronic absence plagues most school districts in the San Joaquin Valley. We know that students who can’t make it to school miss out on learning, and research shows that missing even three days a month over time can put students a year or more behind their peers. Thursday, the Fresno County Office of Education hosted a conference looking at ways to reduce chronic absenteeism. 

This week on Valley Edition: January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. We talk to people on the front lines tackling this complex problem. 

Plus, elections are changing in Fresno County as it adopts the Voters Choice Model. Madera County is also using that model, so ahead of this year’s primary, we ask the county clerks what local voters need to know.

And later, we hear from one of the nation’s leading researchers on chronic absence in schools.  

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Milken Family Foundation

Teachers often give their time and money in ways that are hard to quantify. But this year, one Fresno teacher has been recognized by the Milken Family Foundation for her work with the Sunnyside High School Video Production Academy. Katie McQuone is one of 40 teachers nationwide to receive this annual award. 

Listen to the interview above to hear McQuone talk about how she engages the at-risk students she teaches.

On this week’s Valley Edition: A show about giving. A woman who grew up in a Weedpatch migrant camp during the Dust Bowl era is now welcoming a new set of people who feel displaced. 

Also, community advocates who work tirelessly to improve the lives of so many in our Valley share advice on how we as citizens can help out.

And later, who gives more than teachers? We talk to one whose video production classes give kids a voice.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

In The Studio: Making College Work After Foster Care

Dec 13, 2019
Courtesy of Guardian Scholars

Many students struggle to transition from high school to college, but that challenge is intensified for students coming out of the foster care system. At UC Merced, the Guardian Scholars program provides resources for these students that allow them to reach graduation at rates approaching the general student body. FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke with Guardian Scholars Program Coordinator Edith Ramirez, as well as two UC Merced students who have benefited from the program’s support – Michael Grey and Alyssa Garcia.

On this week's Valley Edition, we go up in the air for an aerial view of Kern County’s Cymric Oil Field. And on the ground in Tulare County, will a village of tiny homes help solve the homeless crisis? 

You may know McFarland for the Disney movie about an against-the-odds cross country track team winning the state championship. But now the town is in the spotlight for a different reason - two investigative reporters tell us about its “second chance” police department. 

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno Bee has served the Valley for nearly a hundred years, but like so many newspapers across the country, it has lost revenue along with dozens of reporters in the past decade. Now, the paper is trying a different approach to serve and inform its public. Inspired by a similar project out of the Seattle Times, the Bee is building an Education Lab. The way the Bee is funding the project is also pretty nontraditional: with private, non-profit funding. 

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: California is trying to manage its groundwater better, but some communities, already grappling with unsafe drinking water, worry they’ll be left behind by local agencies to fend for themselves.

And a Bay Area conservation group just purchased the world’s largest privately owned giant sequoia grove: 530 acres of pristine forest.

Plus: We hear from journalists about two upcoming projects. One of them is run by young women throughout the state, the other is an effort to improve education reporting in Fresno. 

California State University (file photo)

The California State University system is searching for its next chancellor. Timothy White announced Tuesday he’ll retire next June after more than 7 years running the 23-campus system. 

In an interview with Capital Public Radio, White says he’s leaving the university “as stable and focused” as ever — on students:

White: “Everything that should have moved up during the last several years has moved up.” 

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.

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