Change boundaries in Clovis Unified School District to allow equal educational opportunity

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Setting boundaries in Clovis Unified School District in Fresno County determines which schools students can attend and creates racial and educational inequality. On the lower income end of the city, the students attending Clovis East High School specifically focus on agricultural subjects and careers in comparison to the higher end of the city’s high schools. Clovis North and Buchanan focus on performing arts and athletics instead. When it comes to academics and funding Clovis East tends to produce lower test scores, lack equipment, and fewer programs are offered versus the schools on the North end of the city. Demographically, the lower income school also has a much higher minority population in the classrooms and on the athletic fields. There are a number of reasons for educational inequality in our society, but first we are going to explore the resources available to students at these schools and how income affects them.

The average income for a family with a student attending a school within the Reagan Educational Center is roughly $37,000 to $41,000. However, families that live within the Clovis North boundaries average roughly $111,000. While families that live within Buchanan’s boundaries average an estimate of $76,000. The difference between the average income from the lowest boundary and the highest boundary is 3 times as much, and it reflects on the student’s educational opportunities and access. Crime rates are lowest in the 93619 area code where Clovis North is located when compared to the 93611, 93612, and 93720 area codes, where a higher minority concentration can be found. Clovis North’s population consists of 50.8% white, 23.1% Hispanic, 15.5% Asian, and 3.1% African-American. Clovis East’s population consists of 28.0% white, 37.9% Hispanic, 2.5% African-American, and 25.1% Asian. When it comes to standardized testing, Clovis North has 84.8% proficiency in English and 60.4% proficiency in mathematics when compared to Clovis East’s 68.2% proficiency in English and 33.8% proficiency in mathematics.  It’s not just academics that trend lower in these boundaries, but the number of available resources and programs is lower as well.

 Clovis East is located in the poorest region of Clovis Unified and does not have a football stadium, or a state of the art aquatics center, or a performing arts center but is the only school in the entire school district that has an agricultural center. Rather they utilize a cafeteria for award ceremonies and performances and a gymnasium. These schools have  also experienced cuts in funding for public transportation. Buses now no longer pick up students from certain bus stops, but now ask them to find their own mode transportation. Clovis East lacks tutors, but excels in disciplinary actions taken towards students. Can the quality of these schools be traced back to the environment or the character of those that are involved in the schools?  

Kathryn Forbes from Central Valley Magazine believes that Reagan era politics cut funding and staffing for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was openly hostile to a wide range of civil rights issues. Reagan kindled white antipathy toward equal opportunity by spreading a myth of reverse racism. In neighboring Fresno, 32.1% of families attending  Fresno Unified School District have an average household income below the poverty line, ranking 23 out of 549 school districts in the state of California versus Clovis’ 9.6% ranking 385 out of 549. Fresno County has almost triple the amount of property and violent crime as compared to neighboring Clovis. When asked to describe Fresno County, one  interviewee states that it is like many Valley towns. It has a large population of uneducated and immigrant farm workers bringing down average income levels; and the relatively low cost of housing versus the rest of California bring in economically disadvantaged individuals. Clovis Unified School district constantly changes and enforces strict boundary limitations for families and students wishing to attend these top tier schools.

Clovis Unified has a number of policies that enforce certain rules such as the “Open Enrollment Within the District - Board Policy” that states boundary lines for elementary school attendance areas are established using the concept of the neighborhood school.  Attendance areas for intermediate and high schools are established to encompass, when feasible, an equitable balance of all cultural backgrounds represented in the District. Clovis Unified’s home web page also contains a policy stating that they do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, gender, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local law, ordinance or regulation, in its educational programs or employment, but mentions nothing about socio-economic standing. Two Buchanan High School athletes were accused of sexually assaulting a 16 year old female student after engaging in drinking alcohol and being under the influence, which goes against Clovis Unified’s athletic policies. ABC 30 investigated what happened and why it seems the athletes are still playing sports and have not been disciplined at school. However, this event does not stand alone when it comes to events that have caused tension.

This year at Clovis East High School, there was a stabbing on campus in which the suspect was immediately arrested and is now in a juvenile correctional facility. The way the two conflicts were dealt with were not equal, and rather display a social injustice. For religious reasons, a Clovis High student by the name of Christian Titman was denied the right to wear a feather on his cap during his graduation ceremony, even after his request was formally presented. The district repeatedly told the family “no” to everything until the American Civil Liberties Union was involved according to the Fresno Bee when they interviewed Christian’s mother. Although Clovis Unified has a number of policies in place for a vast array of topics, there may come the need for changes to these policies in combination with more accurate enforcement.

The first thing that should be done to promote a stronger society is to subsidize education to an equal level for all participants. It should not matter where a student lives, if the family is committed to a quality education, they should be allowed to attend the school of their choosing and the state and government should subsidize schools districts more than they currently do. In addition, instead of placing even more of a burden on homeowners, the top 1%-10%  should pay a higher federal tax .Society during and post World War II was heavily subsidized, to include education and business. Students were able to attend school more readily because education became the focus of society and ultimately lead to our society being the most educated nation in the world. Building more schools to allow for a smaller, but equal, school population, Hiring only certified teachers to teach in their perspective areas to reduce class size to 15 or fewer students will solve many issues. Additionally, building and maintaining more facilities such as performing arts centers, libraries, athletic fields and purchasing and supplying equipment such as laboratory equipment, musical instruments, and computers/tablets will ensure a higher quality of education. If it was possible to create these conditions that allowed our nation to thrive once, we should be able to create those conditions again.

 However, Reagan directed the focus of our nation away from education and moved it elsewhere, creating the inequality in education we see today. If we were to be subsidized, it would create opportunities for students in the surrounding area. More programs would exist, higher education would be attainable, public transportation would become more readily available to those in need, more resources supporting academics like tutoring would boost grade point averages and scores, and facilities would be updated and ultimately create a safer, healthier, and better school system.

This approach has proven to cause a higher percentage of the population to become educated, especially in higher levels. It would effectively lower the income gap and income equality as well. Most importantly, it would create a flourishing economy once again. All this from redirecting our focus back to education by making tax dollars work in the community and federal involvement in promoting education. We will never get rid of educational inequality all together, but we can mitigate to a point where it is a manageable issue.

Clovis Unified School District may have its issues when it comes to equality for all, but with proper funding throughout and not just specific areas, we can narrow the amount of income and educational inequality today for the people of tomorrow. This will take more than just a letter to the school board to change and issue of this size, but it can be done. Subsidization of schools should be a main focus once again if people want to make America truly great again. The American people have enough to worry about, a quality education for all should not be a concern.

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