FUSD Board of Education: There will be new faces on the Board beginning in December. Chris Delacerda lost his election to Veva Islas in the McLane area. Keshia Thomas will take over from the retired Cal Johnson in the Edison area, and Terry Slatic will replace Brooke Ashjian, who did not seek reelection in the Bullard region. Valerie Davis held her seat in the Sunnyside election.
Special education funding: In the final meeting of the current Board in November, the members engaged in passionate debate with staff and each other over recommendations for an additional million dollars in current year funding for special education. They seemed intent on outdoing each other in support of special education and criticizing the request as too little. It took some time, after many long trustee speeches, for staff to assure board members that this was not the request for upcoming budget proposals targeting the criticisms and recommendations of the recent review of Fresno’s special education services by the Council of Great City Schools (that report is available on the Fresno Unified website). This funding request was a supplement to current year allocations and to meet current pressing needs.
Midterm Elections Implications for Education: Some recent evaluations of the national election results by the Brookings Institute (Brookings Brown Center on Education Policy. “What Do the 2018 Midterm Elections Mean for Education in America,” November 13, 2018) and the Atlantic (The Atlantic.com. “America is Divided by Education” November 7, 2018 ) have highlighted implications for education. Oversight of Education Department: The Brookings report suggested that the new Democratic majority in the House might be more engaged with investigations and oversight of Betsy DeVos and the activities of the Department of Education. Areas of investigation might include whether states are implementing the mandates of the Every Child Succeeds Act (the successor to No Child Left Behind), particularly the provisions that require accountability for the tracking and success of racial and ethnic minorities, students from low income families and children with disabilities. Changes in regulations: Other issues of potential investigation involve changes in regulation of for-profit colleges and Title IX policies related to sexual assault. Flips in some state leadership suggest possible new attention in those states to universal preschool or more funding for education. The widely publicized teacher strikes in some states prior to the election seem to have influenced appreciation and support for teachers across the electorate. Political divide grows: The Atlantic article took a higher level look at the growing education divide between Republican vs. Democratic voters revealed in this election—the Democrats more firmly incorporating college graduates. This is a notable change from the historic class division of the parties—the Republicans traditionally regarded as the party of the upper social classes and the better educated. This election showed a complete flip of that division by education. The article also proposed that the influence of education on voting behavior in the midterm votes was largely explained by the difference in voters’ attitudes toward immigration and comfort with ethnic diversity. Those attitudes were also highly correlated with education attainment—more acceptance associated with a college education and associated with votes for Democrats. Education by Kay Bertken, kayb [at] csufresno.edu