Fresno’s future depends on Fresno Unified School District. Its 74,000 students are the biggest part of our future workforce.

In fact, what happens at Fresno Unified sometimes is more important than the decisions made at City Hall.

Opinion

Darius Assemi

If Fresno Unified fails, we all suffer the consequences: Less prosperity, more blighted and unsafe neighborhoods, a lower quality of life.

The district faces many challenges. Nearly 90% of district students are disadvantaged. One in five is learning to speak and read English. One in 10 has a disability.

Do you know that nearly 1,650 district children are homeless? About 630 more are foster youth.

District Must Embrace Change Agents

The good news is, in recent years, thanks to the state’s Proposition 55 income tax on high earners, the district has gotten its financial house in order. In fact, it is flush with cash, with a budget of more than $1 billion dollars and more than $86 million in reserves.

Fresno Unified is flush with cash. It has a budget of more than $1 billion dollars and more than $86 million in reserves.

Clearly, the district has the funding to do right by its students and the community. The big question is, will district leaders be satisfied with small gains here and there? Or will they embrace the change agents — in the district and from the community — who can propel the district light years ahead?

One change agent is Wendy McCulley, who is already doing amazing things. Support her and trust that she will help African American students soar.

These Programs Must Be Improved

Our English Language Learners aren’t progressing as quickly as they should, and this baffles me. We should be one of the very best districts in the nation in helping our students achieve proficiency.

Will district leaders be satisfied with small gains here and there? Or will they embrace the change agents — in the district and from the community — who can propel the district light years ahead?

Special Education is an area of great need. Fortunately, the Council of the Great City Schools brought forward a robust plan that will lift up students and their families. Superintendent Nelson and the trustees should embrace it.

After Parkland, Sandy Hook and other mass school shootings, Fresno Unified must be more vigilant about campus security. It also needs to step up efforts to improve student respect for teachers and eliminate bullying.

Greater resources must be invested in students in foster care or even living on the streets. Let’s identify their needs and the barriers to their success.

Miami-Dade School District Shows Big Turnarounds Are Possible

No one is asking Fresno Unified leaders to do the impossible. Look at Florida’s Miami-Dade, the nation’s fourth-largest school district. It went from worst to first in student achievement in a few short years after hiring a change-agent superintendent, Alberto Carvalho.

If staff, teachers, principals, trustees, and Superintendent Nelson work together as a team, and embrace change agents instead of nullifying them, we can duplicate the Miami results in Fresno.

This district should know that the community is rooting for its success and is fully supportive of positive efforts to help our students. But also know that, after decades of accepting mediocrity from Fresno Unified, many in the community will hold the district’s leadership team accountable if it doesn’t succeed.

You Might Also Like

2 Responses

  1. Nancy Flynn

    Amen. I believe the count for homeless children in the county is nearing 4,000. Attempting to teach children who don’t know where their next meal will come from or who are sleeping in a car or couch surfing with friends and family is impossible. Perhaps the school district acould part with some of their surplus for the purpose of providing a ‘transitional’ tiny home community for homeless families. There are children living in squalor in motel rooms along Golden State and 99….that should not be. Maslow’s hierarchy would have it that none of us can ‘self actualize’ until our basic needs are met.

    Reply
    • Audrey H Ward

      I agree. It is just not south of town. Many years ago a Forkner family was living in a car because of unemployment and subsequent housing loss. Can the school district get into the housing business or is this an issue the City of Fresno should handle?

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.