Does the “J” in Measure J stand for jumpstart? I was wondering because for 60-plus years, Bakersfield College has been the hub for people looking to jumpstart a life less fulfilled to an education that could lead them to a four-year university or learning a new technical skill.
How do I know this? Imagine this: You’re a happy wife and blessed mother of six children. Believing in adhering to traditional principles, you make the conscious decision to be a housewife, becoming fully financially dependent on your husband to be the breadwinner for the family. As a God-fearing woman, being fundamentally submissive to your husband is part of biblical doctrine. A perfect nuclear family comprised of a husband, a wife and six children. God would be pleased. The Huxtables and Cleavers would be envious.
That is, until Daddy made the foolish choice to leave you for another woman. Leaving you as a single mom, government assistance-dependent, no education, no technical skills and living in a disadvantaged neighborhood. Former District Attorney Ed Jagels is your financial facilitator, TV game shows are your social life, a baseball bat is your home security system and the Friendship House is your primary food provider. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve consumed a government grilled cheese sandwich fried in government butter. We used to call it the “Uncle Sam-wich.” Two-thousand calories of yum. This synopsis and this woman aren’t a figment of my imagination. This woman was my mother.
Measure J is a $503.8 million bond measure that will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot. Aside from the main Panorama Drive campus, multiple entities in Kern County would benefit from the bond passage including the Delano campus and a new Arvin Learning Center. If passed, the bond would finally jumpstart the modernization of an aging Bakersfield College, a campus that is in dire need of upgrades. The campus has fallen behind the technological curve over the last 60 years.
To place it in perspective, here are some statistics for you. With the exception of Aera Energy’s self-funded $1.6 million STEM Success Center, BC has not had a new building constructed on its campus since the BC Library was erected in 1995. And before that, the newest building on the campus, Auto Technology, was constructed in 1973. Yes, there have been numerous remodels and renovations along the way, but BC has a whopping 154 acres and 35 buildings with more than 700,000 square feet of instructional space housed, and most buildings are 60-plus years old.If a grandmother and great-grandchild can claim to have stood in line in an administrative building that is still aesthetically the same as it was when grandma attended, you know there’s a problem.
Some buildings have zero wifi access. At a college. In 2016. This ain’t Bakersfield College. This is Bedrock-ersfield College.
So imagine being a single mother who has finally made the decision to reclaim her life. Your children are finally at an age to where you can finagle a few hours out of the day to take classes.You leave your weathered furniture within your dilapidated home. You leave your deprived neighborhood surroundings.Society has been telling you to pull yourself up by your boot straps and you arrive on a campus that could use a swift kick with said boot itself.Here you are, on a campus lost in a time warp. You’re left to wonder if you’ll run into the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies. Danny and Sandy are probably making out in Levinson Hall as we speak. It’s quite the contradiction in a conservative town like Bakersfield. And we wonder why we’re America’s least literate city.
Enough is enough. Pass Measure J. It’s time for Bakersfield College to jumpstart into the 21st century. My Mom managed to graduate and jumpstart a career in education. Without the necessary upgrades, BC will continue to have its enrollment rate adversely affected and its learning environment as well. BC needs our assistance.
The next single mother needs all the help she can get. This isn’t just a structural problem. It’s a societal problem.