Education in the Valley

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

― Nelson Mandela

“Study rates Valley areas among ‘least educated’ in nation.”

– Fresno Bee (26 July 2016)

WalletHub, comparing 150 metropolitan areas, using the metrics of a college education and the quality of area public schools, finds Fresno ranked 145th (Modesto 146th, Bakersfield 147th, Visalia-Porterville 148th. Brownsville-Harlington, Texas, 150th, and Ann Arbor, Mich., comming in 1st place.)

Only roughly 20% of adults in Fresno County have a bachelor’s degree or better.

In my post of just two days ago (“Education in America”), I wrote, in part, how the U.S., according to “The three-yearly OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world, ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.”

And I concluded with, “If our politicians (and one vocal presidential candidate) really want to make America “great” again, they need to refocus on the state of our educational system.”

And they should. 

The trouble is, there is only so much our national leaders can do. Education is, under the law, a local-control thing. The only real thing the national government can do is threaten to withhold federal assistance monies to state and local school systems who refuse to comply with federal guidelines.

The reasons Fresno and the rest off the Central Valley are so deficient and failing are many, but the primary reasons are socio-economic: the Valley’s principal employer is agriculture and it doesn’t require any education at all to pick fruit and veggies; we rely primarily on un-, under-, educated foreign workers who are paid accordingly at poverty rates, and whose children populate the schools; many (both parents and their children) are lackadaisical about learning and the kids are among the ones most likely to be absent from school and/or be dropouts and become gang-bangers (a related problem, worth a posting for another day.)

It is not the fault of those emigrant families, it is the fault of the system that doesn’t pay wages – and an outreach plan – sufficient to break the circle of poverty and instill the desire to better one’s self beyond that of one’s parents’ condition by seeing the value in obtaining an education. But so long as agriculture remains our primary employer, that is a daunting task. (There are scant other jobs, except the equally poverty-rate wage service-industry, e.g., store clerks and resturant waitstaffing.)

No business that requires an educated workforce is going to relocate to the Valley where none exists. 

Therefore, if education is the best “weapon” to effect change, then our local and state politicians – at the insistence of local, concerned voters – had better declare war on the local economy and educational system as it is here in the Valley.

Just imagine the benefits, how – personally and societally financially better-off – our world would be.

– Bill





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