The California Gold Rush, Hollywood and the Silicone Valley are all synonymous with California's history of economic opportunities and prosperity. Yet, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, 12.8% of Californians lacked enough resources—about $25,500 per year for a family of four—to meet basic needs in 2018. (Please note that this data not not cover the economic impact of COVID-19). Poverty rates across southern San Joaquin Valley counties are significantly higher than the state average;
Moving from my hometown of Porterville, CA in 1985 (population in 25,000) and going to Fresno State (Fresno, CA population 300,000) for college was an amazing experience. Besides the passion for teaching by the amazing science faculty and staff, my college experience allowed me recognize that not everyone thinks like people in "Porterville". I met students and faculty from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Texas, New Jersey, Spain, Nigeria, England, China, India and Iraq. These interactions forced me to question the stereotypes, thoughts and opinions that had developed over the first 18 years of my life. Although quite fulfilling, I don't know how much these interactions with diverse students, faculty and staff has had on my financial future.
There are many variables that contribute to poverty rates. A constant for greater economic success is literacy and education. California Governor, Gavin Newsom and the California State University (CSU) system collaborated to revise the CSU General Education curriculum. According to the August 17, 2020 LA Times, "The decision (for curriculum revision) comes amid a growing push for ethnic studies in public education following Black Lives Matter protests and calls to dismantle systemic and unconscious racism, starting in schools. The bill signed by Newsom, AB 1460, requires all CSU undergraduates to take at least one three-unit course in ethnic studies, defined as having a focus on African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino/a Americans and Native Americans." Will a 18-week, 3.0 unit course to instill diversity in a student's life have a significant economic influence on the future of the student? My hypothesis is...no.
There is good news regarding steps to decrease the probability of poverty. Research from the American Enterprise Institute has discovered the factors that dramatically decrease poverty:
In 2019-20, the Bakersfield College student body was nearly 38,000 students. There were 1609 students that transferred to a 4-year university. A large proportion of these students (81% , or 1,314 out of 1,609 students) transferred to one of 23 CSU campuses. All CSU students, (approximately 481,000 students) will be now be required to take an Ethnic Studies course to meet the graduation requirements. But wouldn't a personal finances be considerably beneficial to the student's future? The student would be able to;
True empowerment of our lives comes from basic academic and financial literacy. The requirement of a Personal Finance class will have a lasting impact on the student's and community's future. But what the heck do I know...I'm just Joe.