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Education Matters: Fresno County Office of Education


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Education Matters
Fresno County Office of Education

Where does your school community go to learn about what’s happening in the classrooms?

In Fresno County, residents can turn on their local NBC-TV affiliate during the Monday night news to view a professionally produced story about subjects ranging from arts education to bullying prevention to school funding.

Called “Education Matters,” the four- to five-minute segments air every week on KSEE-24.

“So many great things are happening every day in our schools,” said Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino. “We just wanted the community to be able to celebrate those successes with us, and Education Matters has enabled that to happen. I want people to be proud of Fresno County.”

Education Matters

Yovino said he reached out to KSEE-TV Vice President/General Manager Matt Rosenfeld in 2014 with the idea of starting a weekly series telling “good stories” about education.

“I told him I was willing to hire a news anchor and cameraman to do the stories if he would put them on the air. He said, ‘Absolutely. Let’s go ahead.’ And it took off from there.”

Yovino said he then found three sponsors to donate $50,000 each per year for Education Matters, which covers the costs of production as well as the services provided by the contracted reporter and cameraman.  Education Matters has produced almost 100 segments and will soon complete its second year.
At first the segments were two minutes long, but as they gained a following they grew to four to five minutes, and their time slot was upgraded to the Monday night news. The segments also air on Tuesday morning during the 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. news show.
The news station doesn’t charge the Fresno County Office of Education (FCOE) to air the show. A retired news anchor and reporter with decades of experience in the Fresno market and her Emmy-award-winning cameraman report and produce the shows. “We just give them a little background information and they run with it,” Yovino said. The resulting stories are high-quality journalism – newsworthy pieces that include outstanding storytelling and video.

Education Matters 2

Yovino said Education Matters has been very well received in the community. “I get stopped by strangers when I’m in the store who say to me, ‘Thanks for the positive messages. I didn’t know all that was going on.’ With Education Matters, we’re telling the world, ‘Hey, this is what’s right about Fresno.’”

The show has even helped FCOE get business sponsors to support school programs. “Businesses have approached us after seeing a story about a program and said, ‘We want to be a part of this,’” Yovino said.

FCOE also shows potential donors clips of the shows to spark their interest.

Many of the Education Matters segments feature school or district programs, such as a program in Fresno Unified School District with a goal of removing all barriers to students doing their best on the SAT.

“Schools and districts have received such positive comments about the shows in which they’re featured that they’re approaching us with ideas for more shows,” Yovino said.

Sometimes, an Education Matters segment will inspire administrators from other schools or districts to reach out and find out how they can start a similar a program.

For example, Yovino said when they aired a show about the Men’s Alliance and Women’s League mentor program at Fowler High School, the principal received calls from other schools wanting more information.

“It’s important to us that Education Matters is not self-serving for the county office,” Yovino said. “And it’s not. It’s promoting what’s going on in classrooms every day.”

Some Education Matters stories focus on issues that directly impact schools, including the rural schools and districts in Fresno County. For example, one segment showed how the drought brought layoffs and evictions to migrant families, who then had to leave Westside Elementary School. The school had been a hub of connection for the community.

Two recent shows on the Local Control Funding Formula explained the positive impact the initiative was having on both the tiny Washington Colony School District and on Fresno Unified School District, the fourth largest district in the state.

Yovino said he measures the success of Education Matters by the public comments he hears about things going on in the schools. Sometimes, he said, he is able to dispel misconceptions. “I used to hear that we had no Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. I show people the segment on CTE and they say they had no idea that was going on.”

Yovino said he has lived in Fresno for 60 years, “and I didn’t even know about some of what we’ve shown on Education Matters,” Yovino said. “You can’t keep this stuff a secret – it’s too good.”

KSEE-TV Vice President/General Manager Matt Rosenfeld said the Education Matters partnership, “reminds our community of the importance of quality education, and makes them aware of the success stories happening in classrooms across our coverage area every week. There are so many stories of positive outcomes in the Central Valley, and our viewers want to hear those stories.” 

Education Matters Episodes2

For more information:

• Find the entire playlist of Education Matters stories on YouTube.
KSEE-TV posts of Education Matters stories include written transcripts of each show.
• This Education Matters story describes Fresno USD’s efforts to remove barriers to students doing their best on the SAT.
• The “We are FCOE” video describes the services provided by the county office and is produced by the team that creates Education Matters.