Reform Fresno Unified
By Mark Arax
I don’t mean to pick on Ruth Gadebusch. She seems like a perfectly dear lady. Her regular column on education in these pages is a place of quaint ideas. However, her recent piece dismissing outright the idea of turning Fresno Unified Unified into two smaller, more nimble school districts was one lazy, intellectually dishonest exercise. She failed to do even the most cursory of fact gathering. Had she called me, I would have gladly calmed her fears about the ogre of north Fresno, explained why breaking up the leviathan district makes much sense and pointed her to the many words I’ve written on the matter.
I would have suggested she visit the Web site, www.reformfresnounified.com, to see for herself the decades-long failure of Fresno Unified to narrow the chasmic achievement gap that continues to separate White students from students of color. And how the smaller school districts that border us have managed to narrow this gap significantly with basically the same students, the same teachers, the same poverty and family breakdown as Fresno Unified.
I would have asked her to explain why the citizens of Fresno don’t deserve to discuss, debate and ultimately vote on a plan for two smaller school districts competing side by side for excellence. Why a vote on the system of garbage delivery could be conceivable in Fresno but not a vote on the system by which we deliver education. “What’s to fear?” I would have asked her. “Why is Fresno Unified so inviolate?”
Ruth Gadebusch describes herself as a “veteran community activist” but her ideas—staid, conventional and beholden to Fresno Unified and the power structure of our city—only serve the status quo. And how much longer will the status quo—each year thousands more dropouts, more gang members, more meth, more crime, more income gap, more hollowing out of Fresno, more sprawl to parts north—be acceptable?
Students Combat Food Insecurity at Fresno State
By Sam Retton
According to a study by Fresno State professor Alida Espinoa, published last fall in the Collegian newspaper, one in three Fresno State students suffer from food insecurity. Many students are forced to work often multiple jobs just to make ends meet, and as CSU fees threaten to rise when moratoriums end this upcoming academic year, even more are having to make tough financial decisions and put their educations on the backburner in favor of having more time for work.
Because this issue is so prevalent in Fresno, Fresno State has established a Food Security Project and opened the Student Cupboard, a campus-based food bank for any student with an ID to use as needed, no questions asked. The demand for food on campus is often higher than the availability, though, so a student activist group, Students for Quality Education, sponsored by the California Faculty Association, is holding a food and supply drive on campus and encouraging students and community members to donate to the Student Cupboard.
The drive will begin on March 23 and end on April 17, when supplies will be delivered to the Student Cupboard. Students for Quality Education will be placing boxes in different locations around campus and collecting donations at their table on April 14 from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Free Speech area of the campus. Students and community members are encouraged to donate not only nonperishable foods, but also personal care supplies like toilet paper, laundry detergent and feminine hygiene products. For more information or to arrange a donation pickup or drop-off, contact Students for Quality Education at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Student Cupboard is located on campus at 5370 N. Chestnut Ave., at the corner of Chestnut and Barstow, and can be accessed through the back gate. You can find more information about the Cupboard at fresnostate.edu/studentaffairs/foodsecurity/student-cupboard.html.