Education reform—will it ever end?

The current rush to high stakes testing and high school exit examinations appears to be just another of the many “reforms” that have been presented as the panacea for education. Since the early days of Horace Mann in the 1830s and 1840s reform has cascaded over education. Mann described the common school as the “greatest […]

Choices made today can set the course for years to come

Tom Wolfe’s most recent book, I am Charlotte Simmons, tells the story of a naïve rural girl who earns a scholarship to a prestigious urban university. Expecting to find an intellectually stimulating environment, Charlotte instead discovers a culture that promotes alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity and a “party ‘til you drop” mentality. Confused about her new […]

Ethical business is a must—not an oxymoron

People sometimes comment to me that “business ethics” is an oxymoron, but in fact it is a necessity. Business depends on trust and integrity, on the keeping of one’s word between client and professional, customer and provider, and employee and employer, within organizations of all kinds and governments at all levels. Despite what some say, […]

Preserving the past and building for the future

Americans, perhaps more than any other culture, are a future-focused people. We celebrate youth, innovation and novelty, while devaluing age and tradition. One way this tendency is expressed is in how we treat the architectural heritage of our communities. In our rush toward the new we too often reject—or simply forget—that which has gone before […]

Love of community starts at home—Valley residents must boost the region

I recently attended—as an observer—the “Meeting of the Minds,” a presentation and discussion on the Creative Economy Council’s report titled Making the Grass Greener: Recommendations to Retain, Attract, Develop, and Support Knowledge Workers. As a “knowledge worker,” and one interested in helping make Fresno and other Valley communities more vibrant, I was impressed with the […]

California school libraries: dead last

North Dakota has one for every 312; Arkansas, one for 437; Oregon, one for 451—but California has one library media teacher for every 4,363 students, making our state last in school library media staffing. Nationally, 20 states mandate a certificated library media teacher in their schools: Georgia for all schools over 251 students, Virginia for […]

Why do we love reality TV?

Watching season five of American Idol auditions over the last few weeks, complete with humiliating scenes in which Simon Cowell tells someone that he looks like the Incredible Hulk’s wife, has renewed my fascination for the kind of pleasure this brings. “Elimination TV,” in which contestants, viewers or judges vote someone off the show each […]

Smaller schools for better educations

Better schools! This is the demand of parents and business. This is the promise of presidents, governors and mayors. This is the challenge of school district officials and administrators. Superintendents are expected to answer the demands, address the promises and meet the challenges in order for student learning to improve. The new superintendent of Fresno […]