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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Lauren Foreman covers education for The Californian. Reach her at lforeman@bakersfield.com, at Facebook.com/TBCEducationReporter or on Twitter@TBCTheGrade.

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Jeffrey Wagner is a social studies teacher at Mira Monte High School.

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Fruitvale School District’s Kern County History Day champions showcased projects Tuesday in preparation for a state history fair Friday in Riverside. Each student will advance to the state level after participating in the Kern County History Day, held last month in Bakersfield.

California ranks 23rd nationally in college attainment, according to a report released Tuesday by the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation.

Bakersfield, however, produces the second lowest population of residents with at least a two-year degree, despite being the 62nd largest city in a list of 100.

Bakersfield is a blue-collar city with a large industrial workforce, said Amber Chiang, a spokeswoman for Bakersfield College.

Many of the jobs, such as welding and work in the oil field, do not require college degrees to achieve success.

"We are built upon the backs of our citizens," she said.

Rob Meszaros, a spokesman for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, said socioeconomic disadvantages, a significant percentage of English-language learners (about 21 percent of Kern County students) and a disproportionate number of households that lack college graduates are also leading contributors to a "low college-going culture" in Kern County.

The Lumina Foundation released the national rankings as part of a report named "A Stronger Nation through Higher Education."

The report used the most recent U.S. Census data (from fall 2012) to track progress at part of the foundation's goal to achieve 60 percent of working adults with at least a two-year degree by 2025.

Of the 10 largest metro areas in California, Bakersfield produced the fewest adults (ages 25-64) with at least a two-year degree in 2012 but -- like seven other California areas -- the city experienced about a 1-percent increase in college attainment from 2011 to 2012.

Fresno, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ontario saw the only decline, a less than 1-percent drop in adults with degrees from 2011 to 2012.

In the Bakersfield-Delano area, 22.12 percent of adults achieved at least a two-year degree in 2012.

Only the area surrounding McAllen, Texas finished lower.


Bakersfield College's five-year completion data show a trend of decline that aligns with community colleges throughout California.

Local representatives say the decline is a result of tight state funding, fewer courses and an error-prone method of determining whether students successfully transfer to four-year universities.

"The issue is, so much of completion is based on students' self-reporting," said Amber Chiang, a BC spokeswoman.

The California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office released the first annual update of the Student Success Scorecard for 112 California colleges April 15.

In the largest tracked Bakersfield College cohort of 2,807 students, 39.9 percent of students who started at Bakersfield College for the first time in 2007-08 and sought degrees, certificates or transfers to four-year schools attained the completion goals by the end of 2012-13 -- down from 45.6 percent in 2011-12.


Jeffrey Wagner, a social studies teacher at Mira Monte High School, received an honor deemed the "most prestigious" award for high school teachers of constitutional history, the Kern High School District announced Wednesday.

Wagner's James Madison Fellowship means $24,000 for him to pursue a master's degree in U.S. history with an emphasis in the U.S. Constitution.

Wagner, who has taught in the Kern High School District for seven years, said he was working when his wife called Aug. 8 and read the first lines of what he immediately knew was an award letter.

He had applied for the fellowship twice before but was rejected.

"So I was just really overwhelmed," Wagner said.


* The Fruitvale School District's Kern County History Day champions showcased projects Tuesday in preparation for a state history fair, planned for Friday through Sunday at the Riverside Convention & Visitors Bureau.

* Centennial High School students began the first day of the VEX Robotics World Championships Wednesday in Anaheim.

* Norris Middle School students will compete in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Science Bowl April 24-28 in Washington, D.C.

* Thirty-three students in the Kern High School District's career and technical education program will participate in a state skills competition April 27-April 30 at the Town and Country Resort and Conference Center in San Diego.


Here's the latest buzz from The Californian's Facebook page:

GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari proposed an education overhaul that would direct money to schools rather than districts, lengthen the school year and waive tuition for students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math, according to the Los Angeles Times.

What do you think about the plan?

Scott N Rae Johnson, Facebook: "Why would you need to extend the school year? Common Core needs to go away and quit trying to teach 3rd and 4th graders algebra. GET BACK TO THE BASICS!!!! The basics is how we learned and I think we turned out just fine."

Ajaib Gill, Facebook:

"He's thinking outside the box, and I like that."