Valley news of the week: May 8-15

May 14, 2011 

The week started and ended with news out of the Clovis Unified School District: the sudden resignation of the district superintendent and a swirl of controversy around the district's sex education program.

Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers on fresnobee.com.

Cash out

What happened: Clovis Unified School District Superintendent David Cash retired abruptly after two years with the district. The surprise announcement came between two closed school board meetings to discuss his performance evaluation. Cash said he was retiring because he had three close friends die in the past year and he wanted to spend more time with his family.

What it means: The district scrambled to name Steve Ward, its associate superintendent of administrative services, as interim superintendent. He will be assisted by former Superintendent Terry Bradley, who will serve as a consultant.

What readers said:

"When you get to that age, you begin to realize what you have missed out on, working 18 hour days, usually 7 days a week. The deaths of his friends could have been a real wakeup call. Bring in the younger people, with the high energy levels, to do the grueling work in education."

-- dkzody

"Age 55 is a nice time to retire with benefits. Maybe he was just biding his time with CUSD until he reached the magic retirement age. Or maybe he is being ousted by the Board. Who knows? As these are 'personnel matters,' generally the public will never know the truth."

-- dvjm03

New generation

What happened: Hundreds of middle school students in the central San Joaquin Valley and across the state are using iPads for their classwork and homework.

What it means: Educators say the students appear to be more engaged than their peers in their studies, and their test scores are rising.

What readers said:

"Of course new and expensive toys are motivating and focus kids' attention, at least for awhile. That has less to do with the value of the toy itself and more to do with the power of new and perceived as valuable/special. In education, change is as much a valuable tool as are routine and predictability.

Invariably, those who benefit from the marketing of that change will point to it as being the particular change that is such a 'magic bullet' when in fact, it is simply that it is new, different, and perceived as special and valuable."

-- janbalcom

"Here's a thought. Get rid of teachers that can't teach or that don't produce results and hire teachers that are motivated and innovative in their teaching methods to get these kids interested to learn.

"All they should need is a nice mechanical pencil, calculator, click eraser and some college ruled paper."

-- maq10

Red light for Valley

What happened: The state Legislative Analyst's Office recommended that the state's proposed high-speed rail system start in Los Angeles or the Bay Area -- not in the Central Valley. The office issued a report that said the high-speed rail project was based on unrealistic funding assumptions and a poor business plan.

What it means: Proponents of high-speed rail and the planned Central Valley route said the report was about politics, not the project's merit.

What readers said:

"This report is about power politics plain and simple. Politicians in Sacramento who represent California's big cities don't want to spend money on the valley and this report obliges them by providing them an excuse."

-- lessbread

"Finally a voice of reason! It makes sense to start in LA or San Fran. In case the project is never finished. We all know that the way things go in California that this is a real possibility and we don't need a train to no where in the valley taking up valuable agriculture land and becoming a blight on the landscape of the valley. This report should be taken seriously by those in charge."

-- brovin25

Sex ed controversy

What happened: A sex-education program in Clovis is under attack from parents who say it illegally emphasizes abstinence and fails to provide accurate medical information.

What it means: A state education official says her office has taken note of the curriculum and plans to investigate.

What readers said:

"When my child came home and reported what these people were teaching, I thought (s)he was making it up. I was asked, 'Can you really get AIDS from sharing a drink?' This curriculum does need to be updated. They're teaching 1950s curriculum to students in 2011."

-- HateHaters14

"Wow, is this for real? ... It seems this issue is more about different belief systems. Oh, and gotta love the state worker chiming in, as if she has no agenda! Seriously, do our kids need these kinds of 'parents' and 'Big Sis,' I mean, Ms. Smith from Sac setting the moral course for them? Stand Strong Clovis Unified!!!"

-- Bethany Richter

Catching Up is compiled by Bee editors. Go to fresnobee.com/catchingup/ to comment or learn more about these stories.

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