Letter: A Shoutout for Taking Action

Dear Editor,

Congratulations to The Sun-Gazette and publisher Reggie Ellis for his Feb. 9, 2022, article about Visalia Unified’s terrible results in producing graduates who are eligible for freshman admission to Fresno State or UC Merced. For perspective, in 2021 only 24% of VUSD graduates met admission requirements. Statewide, over half of all graduates qualified. The district ranked 19th out of 20 districts between Clovis and Delano. More details below.

Congratulations also to Visalia Unified’s brand new Superintendent, Kirk Shrum. Six months after The Sun-Gazette article appeared, he is already ending five years of delays by previous superintendents and is leading the current board to take action to fix the problem.

The background: VUSD currently only requires students to take two years of Math to graduate. However, California State Universities require three years of study as part of their academic admission requirements. The University of California schools require four years.

Previous VUSD Boards once scheduled the three year requirement to apply to the freshmen class of 2018 – graduates in 2022. The Board then delayed to the class of 2024 and delayed again to 2025. Earlier this year the current Board delayed the requirement again without voting on a specific year. Mr. Shrum is obviously a man of action and is now leading the Board to set the requirement for next year’s freshman class graduating in 2027. Five years of continuing delays by VUSD Boards is simply dereliction of duty. The new Superintendent is off to a great start!

But let us give credit to The Sun-Gazette for exposing the problem and the solution. Mr. Ellis also noted that most surrounding districts including Dinuba, Orosi, Exeter and Woodlake already require three years. Academically, those small rural school districts, like most in the Central Valley, have consistently produced better educated graduates than Visalia.

For years The Sun-Gazette has exposed significant problems that Visalia’s local newspaper ignored or deliberately buried. For example, in 2019 the State released a list of worst performing schools in California. There were 181 elementary schools on the list – five of them were in little old Visalia Unified. Few if any parents realized how bad their schools were performing.

So, congratulations to The Sun-Gazette, Mr. Ellis and Mr. Shrum for taking action to fix problems that have been ignored for years.

Jerrold Jensen

Letters to the editor are not news articles but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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