A national study notes that job openings in the Valley require more education than many job-seekers possess, a Fresno State freshman dies after drinking at a fraternity party, and a Porterville family says they faced discrimination from two airlines because their son has Down syndrome.
Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers at fresnobee.com.
What happened: Fresno and other Valley cities have some of the nation's widest gaps between workers' schooling and employers' needs, according to a Brookings Institution report. The analysis illustrates a major problem faced by employers in the region: The jobs for which they are hiring tend to require more education than most job-seekers have.
What it means: In a recent report by the Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board, a survey of employers pointed to labor availability and cost -- including a "lack of qualified workers for technical and high-skill positions" and "inability to read or follow instructions" -- as one of the most significant obstacles to growth and expansion, behind the lackluster Valley economy.
What readers said:
"The first thing this region needs to do is to get students to graduate from high school. I can't believe we still have such a high drop out rate. Where are the parents?"
"What,we have here,is,a failure to communicate~ COS dumps Vet Tech program,but you can go to a backpacking class today~~ YUP YUP ah huck ah huck,my moma done tole me~~~"
-- Rick Son
"The real cost of this problem is that future businesses looking for a location will cross the Valley off the list due to the perception that we do not have an educated work force. This is very basic. Our office operating costs are lower here than any where on the west coast. Taxes are insignificant in that context. The real barrier to growth is finding the right employees, and that requires strong higher education. We need graduate and engineering and professional schools."
What happened: A night of drinking at a fraternity party had a tragic outcome for Fresno State freshman Philip Dhanens, who died Sunday at a Fresno hospital. Fresno police are investigating who gave alcohol to the 18-year-old from Bakersfield, and whether alcohol was provided to other underage people at the Theta Chi fraternity party.
What it means: The Fresno County Coroner's Office said Friday that Dhanens had a high level of alcohol in his blood before he died, but the coroner is awaiting the results of toxicology tests before declaring a cause of death. The results could come Monday, a spokesman said Saturday.
What readers said:
"This is a tragic epidemic plaguing the nation, but it seems to be a bit unfair to point fingers at Fraternities as the cause of the problem. The real evil is our country's attitude towards alcohol. Young people will choose to drink in many different environments, all of which can prove to be unsafe. Movies like Project X and Superbad add fuel to this fire by beautifying binge drinking."
"May this sad event be something that can and will create a positive impact in the long-run. There will, no doubt, be a lot learned from this. Several will receive his ultimate gift of organ donation, that alone will be life changing/life saving to many. That may be a small consolation to his loved ones, but he will continue to live through others~ thank you for that gift. The lesson learned for many of the people touched by this will have a ripple affect for years to come: advocacy and education for drinking responsibly (or not drinking at all if one so chooses), support for families and students, prevent other tragedies due to making kids think twice, and the list can go on."
"I would like to see the DA press charges against the person or persons who provided this minor with alcohol and throw the book at them as a lesson to the rest of these idiots."
What happened: A Porterville family says they faced discrimination from two airlines while trying to return home to California from the East Coast. Robert Vanderhorst said American Airlines claimed his 16-year-old son Bede, who has Down syndrome, was too agitated to board, which the family denies. But when American arranged for the Vanderhorsts to take a United Airlines flight to the West Coast, the family ended up in the last row of coach, with flight attendants forbidding other passengers from sitting in the empty row in front of them.
What it means: Disability rights advocates have called on both airlines to improve staff training. Meanwhile, Vanderhorst says he is considering suing under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
What readers said:
"What does American Airlines do when babies are screaming and toddlers are running around the terminal and climbing all over the chairs? If they are doing this in the terminal and the parents can not clam them down what might they do on the flight? What about when you are on a plane and children are crying loudly and will not calm down, or kicking the back of your seat, are they also considered a security risk?"
-- Karen Wagner Sferra
"As a frequent flyer (thirty overseas flights per year) it is my dream to have separate family flights (meaning wild kids and crying babies). They definitely should not be in first or business class unless can prove to be well behaved, if not, should be in the back behind sound proof barriers. The rest of us have rights as well."
"This was a blatant case of the pilot didn't like the looks of the kid and said he couldn't fly. The pilot in my honest opinion needs to be suspended without pay for at least a month and he might although I doubt it learn a lesson."
-- Maureen Vaughn
Catching Up is compiled by Bee editors. Go to fresnobee.com/catchingup/ to comment or learn more about these stories.