Fresno Unified to receive $8.2 million to help principals ensure equity in classrooms

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Unified, like many other parts of the country, is getting more racially and ethnically diverse.

But research shows students of color fall behind their peers, creating long-term implications.

To increase equity in the classrooms, The Wallace Foundation has awarded the school district $8.2 million to improve training for principals and vice principals.

"Our foremost underserved groups are African American youth, foster, homeless youth, special needs, English language learners, particularly newcomers," says Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson. "So how do you raise a generation of leaders who can address the kind of systemic things that have caused those kids not to thrive? How do we go about fixing those things and making them better for the students we serve?"

Fresno Unified is one of eight districts across the country participating in the five-year equity-centered initiative. Administrators will work with community and university partners throughout the process.

"And you're working with top-line educational theorists to try and make sure that what we're doing is sustainable, substantial, and is actually accomplishing the goals to which we've placed our minds," Nelson said.

According to the Wallace Foundation, schools led by strong principals have higher student attendance and greater teacher retention.

"In the end, it's about our kids, it's about our communities, and really making sure that they get the best of everyone," says Kimberley Villescaz. So it helps us as leaders with that, and how we lead through an equity lens."
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