Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson is known as a friendly and cheerful guy who, if he wasn’t heading the state’s third-largest school district, could make a good living as a used-car salesman. (Or so he has reportedly said.)

Check out my other School Zone columns at Nancy Price’s School Zone Facebook page.

One of his favorite catchphrases, usually accompanied by a hashtag, is Militant Positivity. Nelson seems determined to always find silver linings in clouds and make lemonade when he’s handed lemons. If he had a theme song, it probably would be “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” (Is there a ukulele version?)

In a recent post on one of his Facebook pages, Nelson carried his militant positivity to a new level when he talked about being thankful for being attacked by “haters.”

Nelson and the district have been under fire over the past year on a number of issues, including keeping schools closed to in-person instruction when other districts were open, the renaming of the Fresno High mascot, and the naming of the district’s new campus at Ventura Avenue and 10th Street.

He may have been channeling German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (whose adage “what does not kill me makes me stronger”) when he wrote the following:


(By the way, don’t call me a hater, Bob, but I’m pretty militantly positive that “vicious” doesn’t have that extra letter s.)

Also in School Zone: 

  • Golden Charter Academy gearing up for new school year.
  • Spark Tank winners talk about their community problem-solving projects.

Summer School for Teachers at This Charter

Teachers at Golden Charter Academy, Fresno’s newest charter school that will be in partnership with Fresno Chaffee Zoo, will have one of the more fun summer school assignments. In July, they’ll be spending a week at the zoo getting docent training, school CEO Robert Golden tells GV Wire.

Docents are volunteers who are thoroughly educated about zoo critters and their habitats and then share their knowledge with zoo visitors.

Golden Charter Academy teachers will need that education when the school opens for its first classes in August. The school will mix classroom lessons with zoo-based, hands-on experiences through environmental education.

The school is opening with grades TK-3 and then gradually adding grades until it tops off in a few years with grade 8.

There was some talk about a summer school for Golden Charter Academy, but Golden says that plan was shelved because new charters don’t qualify for state funding for summer school.

The school’s finances got a big boost Tuesday when Golden Charter Academy was awarded a $250,000 grant by the Charter School Growth Fund, which Golden says is “very exciting news for us.”

The Colorado nonprofit provides seed money to budding charters as well as grants to larger charter schools, targeting schools with growth potential and that provide school opportunities for underserved students.

Meanwhile, Golden Charter Academy’s School Board has some trustee appointments on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting. Fresno Unified Trustee Keshia Thomas, who is Golden’s mother-in-law, is on tap for a retroactive appointment — her three-year term started July 2020 and will end in June 2023. Fresno Unified’s former chief financial officer and deputy superintendent, Ruthie Quinto, is being nominated for a three-year term that begins July 1 and ends in June 2024.

Spark Tank Pitch Fest Celebrates 2021 Winners

Winners of the 2021 Spark Tank competition hosted by the Fresno Pacific University Center for Community Transformation will be honored June 17 at a ceremony that’s open to the public.

The winners will talk about how their projects addressed and provided solutions to community problems through social enterprise. Each business received a full scholarship from the Lilly Foundation to attend the center’s Social Enterprise Academy.

Since 2013 Spark Tank has energized 58 social enterprises in the Valley that created jobs for more than 260 people, many of whom face employment challenges, and generated $3.7 million in income.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required to allow for safe distancing practices. To register, go to

The Spark Tank Pitch Fest will be from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. June 17 at the Encore Amphitheater, located off Hamilton Avenue on the south side of the main campus in southeast Fresno.

6 Responses

  1. William Thacker

    The glaring issue with Bob Nelson is his lack of accountability. He is the typical Teflon but will take the blame when his 7 bosses ( FUSD Board Members) need a scapegoat. Nelson can use jargon like Militant Positivity but it doesn’t change the facts FUSD academically performs at the lowest 5% in the nation. In fact, it performs so poorly that Nelson has his own children in another school district Yosemite School District . Unlike FUSD Yosemite School District has been in person education full time since January as most surrounding school districts and private schools.
    Nelson’s post is nothing more than trying to play victim hood ” for all the attacks” Mr. Militant Positivity claims to receive . In all fairness to Mr. Nelson the hierarchy at FUSD puts him below or as a subordinate to 7 trustees. 6 of these trustees spend the majority of meetings with social justice type programs, naming schools, listening to parents, discussing the bizarre removal / lawsuit of a 131 year old warrior and using a building as the rebranding that is named after a white supremacist and other non- educational fluff.
    Mr. Nelson is not lateral to 7 board members and not a partner he is more a butler .
    Many of us had such high hopes for Nelson when he was selected after his predecessor Hanson left or push out on the heels of an FBI investigation. But the fact is Nelson claims to make an
    ” Impact” but fails to be specific what ” Impact” that is. It’s certainly not academics but possibly the destructive social justice clubs and Critical Race Theory that FUSD is rolling out using the same blame that the problems if the low performing school district come from racism and poverty. Yet the district FAILS to empower the students with educational tools to compete for careers as surrounding school districts.
    Nelson’s victimhood mentality is the core of what is taught to children at FUSD. ” it’s OK Johnny you cannot read and right at your grade level it’s because of race and the white man keeping you in poverty” and ” all history written by white people are white lies” if you destroy the history, change the name crumble the statute your life will improve.
    Nelson needs to go or adjust his ” Militant Positivity” to “Realistic Responsibilty” their are 4 FUSD board members up for election in 2022 and 1 that has a grave illness ( 5 spots subject to change)
    FUSD is a dysfunctional ship of hacks who place politics over educational values.
    Where their communications director is paid $170,000 a year in a failed school district wherr family average income is $26,000 and employs 10,000 people ( 7 unions) to serve 75,000 students. Nelson better get busy with accountability.

  2. Ron Sherrin

    Funny to read letters demanding accountability when these same letter writers voted for a monster like Tump, and support the dirtiest local politicians the valley has, Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunez. Nelson is a decent man and decency has no place in the cult of Trump. Nelson is a rose in a valley of weeds.

    • William Thacker

      You must be talented you can determine how someone votes from their posting?
      Nelson is a wilting rose with thorns. He doesn’t even send his own children to FUSD that should tell you he knows the weeds. Your labels are fascinating but have no substance beyond that. Ron try to give some substance without bringing up politics which has nothing to do with Bob Nelson’s poor performance . He is just inept whether he is libertarian, Independent et al .

    • William Thacker

      It’s ” Nunes”
      But then who cares the article isn’t about politics its about FUSD being unaccountable for falling at the lowest 5% in the nation academically. Some accountability is needed from FUSD administration.

      P.S. BN really sucks at singing as well.

  3. Debbi Andrews

    I enjoyed the informative article by Nancy Price, including the fun poke at Superintendent Nelson’s misspelling. It struck me that had he dropped the i, instead of adding another s, it would have read as a viscous attack; slimy, as in a messy sneeze. Masks, properly worn, do ensure he would not be attacked by one of those!
    Mr. Thacker has done his homework, but in his zeal he has neglected to have his response edited —- an oops especially given the points he’s trying to make. Please review the correct use of their and there, and surely you can write right!

    • William Thacker

      Not pretending to be a great speller but then you should see the grammar of educators ( like Nelson) not to mention physicians with advance degrees.
      Horrible. Then there is students at FUSD that graduate with 4th grade level reading and writing not to mention FUSD no longer teaches long hand.
      Educators should have a higher standard.


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