KCCD Trustee Agbalog on Terry Maxwell’s KNZR 1560AM Radio Show


And now here’s the host of a program
Terry Maxwell well I want to welcome everyone back you know this is a segment
that I’ve been looking forward to I enjoyed my conversation with Lance Izumi
last week last Friday learned a lot Lance is a real bright guy knows a lot
about education has been involved in it for 40 years one of the groups that brought
him in at least the last two times that I know of
is called the Citizens Kern, Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government and the chairman of the board the not Chairman of the board Executive Director I
mean of that organization is also a member of the Board of Directors for the
Kern Community College District his name is Romeo Agbalog now Agbalog what does that come from what I’ve never I’ve never seen that name before and I’m
just wondering was it agricultural blogs and they just shortened it to Agbalog
well it’s a Filipino last name okay it’s probably you know it’s a
unique last name because I’m just one of a kind Terry I like that yeah I like
that I’m gonna use that and as I tell people Romeo I’m gonna use it and for
three times I’m gonna give you credit for it but after the third time it’s
mine that’s perfectly fine with me that’s I mean come on
that’s a great one as a follow-up to the conversation I had with Lance Izumi I
know that you have been involved in education and did it spur
you being in the position you’re in with the Kern Citizens for
Sustainable Government that it drove you to become a part of the the Kern County
Community College’s board or was it kind of the other way around or is this just
something that you have always thought of doing well actually what motivated me
to get active and involved in education Terry was becoming a parent first and
foremost I became affiliated with school districts in 2004
I was a young parent with a son in an elementary school district in Delano
mm-hmm I ran for the elementary school district then and beat five candidates
for two seats and I was the number one vote getter knocking off an
incumbent and I was hooked because as a parent you make a commitment
when you become a parent to provide your child with the best of everything that
you can you know whether it’s the best schools or the safest neighborhoods and
best healthcare all the things that it is that you could provide within your
means education was important to me
it was a great equalizer and I felt like I had something to contribute at that
time and got involved and as a parent you’re never satisfied with a good
enough education you always want more you want better uh-huh sure and so that’s
what got me started and what successes did you have or I mean certainly there
are hurdles and things that you were challenging back then what sort of
successes have you had what sort of challenges that you still that we all
still face today that that were just not solving well after about 10 years on the
Delano Union School District Board of Trustees I took a seat on the Kern
Community College District Board of Trustees and it was a great opportunity
because it had experience in the K-8 system and now I’m in higher ed mm-hmm
and you get to see really how the systems work together and this is kind
of the pipeline right from education from the beginning to the end you kind
of see both sides and what really got me excited about this position on the
Kern Community College District Board was that I represent a rural area, area
4, encompasses Delano McFarland Shafter Wasco Lost Hills Buttonwillow portions of
Northwest Bakersfield large area rural and one of the things that has always
struck me as being very important about Kern County is that we’re the number one
Ag producing County in the nation right we’re at the top in terms of oil
production right we lead in wind and solar energy production we have a robust
defense and aerospace industry in eastern Kern County and now logistics is
on the map and while we lead in all those areas what’s always been
concerning to me is that we have such a low attainment rate
in terms of higher ed here in Kern with about 16% countywide of our
residents having a bachelor’s degree or higher what’s the average
well for California or the nation well we’re about half okay less than that now here’s
the problem with when you take rural communities and separate those areas
we’re at 9% and when you think about Kern County statistically where you have
almost nearly a quarter of your population living in poverty there’s a
disconnect there’s certainly a problem there and looking towards the future how
can you continue to lead the country in all these areas how can our local
industries continue to be competitive in a global market when we can’t provide
industries with qualified skilled people to take us to that next level
now Brookings put out a report not too long ago that showed their estimate was
about 47 percent of jobs in the metro Bakersfield area would be susceptible to automation or artificial intelligence right and if you break down these jobs
into sub-sectors the production sub-sector they estimated anywhere between
70 percent to almost 100 percent of the jobs would be susceptible to
automation give us an example of what what a production job would be well all the industries that we have whether it’s Ag
production oil production logistics manufacturing all those things okay so
if I am picking things out in the field yes there’s a possibility
that when labor becomes too expensive they will replace me with a machine
because the machine number one doesn’t require all of the expense doesn’t call
in sick doesn’t yeah I mean and that machine can work 16 hours a day exactly
there’s no restrictions exactly you see this already in logistics so with that being
said you know who’s the population that’s gonna be most impacted well it’s gonna
be those families here in Kern County you’re gonna see the
younger group younger male Hispanic underrepresented minority groups however
category you want to break it down at the end of the day that’s Kern County so
we really have to work in a very meaningful way in a very intentional way
in a bold way to try and move the needle to help get people where they need to be
not just in terms of being able to sustain themselves and their family but
to help Kern County stay competitive one of the things that in your
explanation this struck me is that like in Silicon Valley yes you’re gonna have
an extremely high concentration of people with higher education sure when
you start talking about agriculture and oil as being our two foundational economies here there is a relatively
large number of jobs that are in the production side of it simply by
the nature of what we’re producing oil is a commodity as is all of the
agriculture are commodities and then i’m not sure are we going to change
into a, because automation is going to happen for both of those fields so
what do you see for us in the future that turns Kern County into something
other than those two industries where we are in a position where anybody with a
degree is going to say well i’ve got to move to Bakersfield because this is what
they’ve got there well this is why and I want to get into Early College but few
years back the wonderful company sponsored a charter school in the Delano
community wonderful charter, Wonderful College Prep Academy right and in
partnership with Bakersfield College a couple years back they developed this
innovative program this guided pathway where you would have students who
attended the school take high school courses also earn college credit while
taking those courses and upon completion of their four years of study would earn
an associate’s degree in Ag business and they would have an offer of employment
upon graduation so for example if you graduated with this degree in Ag business you
could transfer to a four-year university or institution as a junior or you can go
to work full-time for the wonderful company now the beauty of this Ag
business pathway was for a lot of folks you ask them well would you be
interested in a career in Ag and what they think is harvesting
they’re not harvesting now you have these Ag companies that are big they
have attorneys on staff they have you know plant doctors on staff they have
folks who are well versed in different sciences so there’s a lot more to Ag
than just somebody who harvests well it’s interesting I was invited to go to
a lunch about three weeks ago by the local Ag foundation okay
and they had all of the FFA kids they had one from each one of the schools
along with one of the teachers that was there or a principal and
when they started describing all of the different aspects of Ag that it’s almost
like in medicine how many how many different kind of doctors do we need
well you know there’s 20 different kinds of specialties out there
that doctors can be and I didn’t realize an Ag there’s 20 different specialties
that somebody can go into in terms of like you say what if you’re
somebody who wants to work on gene splicing sure because you
believe that there are ways that we can produce fields that have fields that
produce better healthier more nutritious food and I mean that’s a huge thing but
it may be that you would rather look at growing stronger flowers and
different kinds of plants or you want to go into the manufacturing or the water
aspect or there’s so many different things that I was blown away by it
that’s exactly right Terry well you know industries do a really good job at least
those industries that stay competitive in terms of innovation innovate all the
time in order to have that competitive edge and from the education side we just
really need to work hard to deliver education at the speed of business you
mentioned the wonderful company and how they are working with BC so when
did that program get first get put together well it was a few years back
and this partnership with the Wonderful College Prep Academy served as a
catalyst so we have what we call dual enrollment where we have students now
there’s authorizing legislation from the state that allowed high schools to offer
courses that would also count towards college credit these are dual enrollment
courses well few years back with this wonderful partnership we were able to
structure something called a guided pathway where rather than just take a
series of different courses for high school and college credit we were able
to structure these courses in a Pathway that would lead you down the path
towards a career like Ag business with a wonderful group well now we have what’s
called early college which is more from that guided pathways to now having this
early college concept where we have cohorts of students not just now
with McFarland High which I’ll get to in a little bit the entire high school has
embraced this College early college concept where all 280 incoming freshman
next year will be enrolled in early college but to talk about the success of
wonderful we were able to kind of just crack the code with a wonderful group
and last year I had the honor of participating at BC’s graduation
ceremonies where we had approximately forty students from Delano walk across
the stage and earn and receive their Associate’s degree okay and they did it
within a couple of weeks before actually receiving their high school diploma
walking through that ceremony so it’s really neat so we saw forty last year
this year we anticipate another group from Delano but wonderful also partnered
with Wasco High School and we anticipate a group from Wasco and Delano
walking across the stage so the ones from McFarland where they come from okay
so now McFarland we have this guided pathway with wonderful and now Wasco but
now this early college concept came in where we’ve taken the guided pathway
it’s on steroids now where you have a guaranteed outcome upon completing your
four years so the way that it’s structured is
you have a student enter into high school as a freshman in the ninth grade
and you take sixty units that’s required to earn the associate’s degree and you
break down those sixty units and bite-size pieces over the four years
upon graduation after the year four you not only get a high school diploma
but you earn an associate’s degree or certificate so you’re getting in
four years you’re getting six or six years worth of education that’s exactly
right now at the minimum I mean you’re gonna have some students will struggle
but at the very minimum they’ll walk away with 12 units of college credit now all
the studies show that if you introduce college at an early age and students
take the classes and they’re successful the percentage of success increases
exponentially now the beauty of this program is that you have this captive
audience of four years mm-hmm so we use this term hard-railing
you’re in the system you’re in the pipeline there’s really no way out
you’ve got four years of captive audience to give them the sixty units
they need now for the student and the family of the parent here’s the benefit
they get two years of higher ed while in high school tuition free no book
charges no housing costs no transportation costs so if you’re a
parent like me that socks away a little bit of money every month
to help pay for your child’s education whatever amount you have in savings has
now just been compounded because two years are off the table right so upon
graduation this student can transfer to a four-year college or university as a
junior so if you’re but the restriction would be they’re gonna be
coming in as a junior for specifically ag-related
well here’s the neat thing about early college so now depending on the school
that we’ve partnered with and we offer a variety of different pathways so yeah Ag
business is one you have education and others at McFarland I believe we were
about seven or nine pathways so you have different pathways you can jump into
that could help you upon your two years of college credit you can jump into a
different program in a four-year university or institution now here’s the
here’s the savings to the taxpayer so when we look at our data everything that
we do at Bakersfield College is really data-driven very intentional and you
look at numbers and statistics and you say oh you know a traditional student
going to Bakersfield College that enters the traditional way graduates high school
just signs up upon completion with their associate’s degree you look at their
transcript they have anywhere between 90 to 95 credits when you only need 60 to
graduate so that we’ve come up with this really highly technical term called
swirling you know they’re just taking classes for the sake of taking classes
well when the state of California sends an allocation to the college to pay for
those classes well it’s really money that’s not being well spent right
so when we hard rail these students and give them the sixty units that they need
over four years well you eliminate that thirty to thirty
five extra units in the application that would come to the school how many
students start with this program and then decide well it’s not really for me
I don’t have the desire to have college credits because that’s not what I want
to do with my life I mean you having some pretty good success aren’t
you we’re having tremendous success and now when we talk about this hard-railing
concept let’s look at McFarland High McFarland High a few years back revamped
their graduation requirements and just changed them all to mirror A through G
requirements so the students go to high school some of them don’t really even
know what it is they’re taking they just take a class of the sake of
taking classes they need to graduate but they’re also getting the benefit now
with early college they were able to do a lot of heavy lifting to structure a
schedule that would give them an additional period and a longer day in
classes in the evening and even online course offerings and they’re able to
break down these 60 units over four years and for the student it’s just
taking a class they’re in high school but they’re also earning the college
credit but the rigor doesn’t go away and one of the things that I would tell you
about McFarland why I’m so impressed with them and said you know they did a
lot of the heavy lifting on their own community colleges or community colleges
were higher ed were accredited our classes will never be watered down
but the high school recognized that they had flexibility they had the freedom to
change it so what they did is they challenged themselves to up their game
and they did and they hit the mark Romeo we got a take a break we’re gonna be right
back welcome back everybody we are talking
with Romeo Agbalog and we have been talking a little bit about not a little
bit we’ve been talking a lot about some of the innovations that are going on in
in education we were during the break talking a little bit about what the city
Bakersfield is doing in terms of vocational training and trying to get
kids into that sort of a pathway to success and Romeo one of the things that I think about is if you’re having this kind of success and you’ve got kids that are motivated you know you’ve got it’s
almost like you have got a beautiful thing going on here and you don’t want
too many people to know about it because then everybody else is going to want the
same thing for them and you know a program like this BC is only got a certain
number of people that they can go ahead and take on in a program like this have
them graduate without ever any payment towards them put them on a path to
success but BC’s got to be on a pathway to success also I mean are those
sort of things that you in your conversations
being on the board of trustees as well as looking at what’s happening in these
rural areas and trying to make a difference in all these people’s lives
well to talk about the success let me just share a statistic with you Terry
so in 2012-13 we were only able to offer four sections in dual enrollment courses
and same timeframe 2012-13 we had 74 students who were taking dual enrollment
courses mm-hmm let’s fast-forward to 17-18 we’re at
7,102 students and we’re at 384 pathways so we’ve experienced tremendous
growth tremendous success and we really were able to
fine tune this program with wonderful and then scale it up so now we have a
comprehensive public high school in McFarland who’s completely embraced
early college and now you have an entire early college campus in McFarland
beginning next year with this launch in February and just a couple weeks ago we
were invited back to Washington DC where we met with representatives from the
Department of Ed including a Frank Bergen who’s the number two right in the
department talking about early college and we also did some
presentations before two national educational organizations who wanted to
know a little bit about early college now the term early college is not a new
one it means different things to different people but nobody had ever
seen us or ever seen early college laid out the way we’ve done it well
especially to have that many different pathways grow I mean how can you go from
that those few as you have seven to what did you say three hundred we have three
hundred eighty four now this is a partnership I mean okay Bakersfield
College does a little bit of the work but we also find willing partners who
were capable who were able to help us move this ball along the field and what
we went to DC for wasn’t so much to ask for anything other than they just really
wanted to know our story in hopes that this can be scaled up to be a national
it’s called duplication yeah duplicate success because we know that you
know usually when the government shows up success is dialed not the first
thing on their minds this is a program that is re-engineering education we hope
that early college will be a model policy nationwide where other areas in
the country that are rural just like Kern could take advantage of the early college
concept and apply it to their states to best meet their needs okay but this is
great for rural yes but what about inner-city I mean because we’ve got
major problems in inner-city schools also I mean is this something that could
be maybe twisted and turned a little bit and applied to some of the inner
cities I mean Los Angeles Unified School District and it’s certainly the high
school district down there is struggling tremendously because they are graduating
40% of their–47% of their students with D-minus averages LA
Unified’s got some tremendous problems they have not just academic challenges
but they have fiscal challenges as well but the beauty of early college in its
concept is that there is some flexibility there certainly you know if
you go to the wonderful Academy or you look at McFarland or a small cohort and
partnership with Arvin High School that we have there with Bakersfield College
now some of the pathways are different just based on the needs of the students
there so certainly a model policy that can be replicated elsewhere but could
also be fine-tuned and tweaked to best fit the needs of a diverse student
population you talked about innovation and how many people does it take to
develop this kind of innovation we talked a little bit about leadership when — kind of just talking off the top of our head and you know we’re kind
of talking about what was going on with citizens Kern citizens for
sustainable government and the necessity for good leadership and visionaries and
and having that idea that people embrace and can move all move
forward towards because I always remember in the movie where they get
the best 5 tunnel diggers from Japan and after a week they haven’t gotten very
far and so the guy says well what’s the problem he goes well they all want to go
in different directions got it yeah no that’s true well we’re
blessed here locally to have tremendous leadership at Kern Community College
District the support of the Board of Trustees but under the leadership of Dr.
Sonya Christian who’s just done a phenomenal job in the short period of
time she’s been president at Bakersfield College
she’s an innovative thinker she works really really hard and one of the things
I’d like to tout about Bakersfield College folks who may not know is that
it’s one of 15 community colleges in the state that was afforded the ability to
offer a four-year baccalaureate degree program that was a heavy lift and Dr.
Christian was able to help that come to fruition at Bakersfield College so now
you have students who are early college students who are
taking dual enrollment courses in a guided pathway who can also finish high
school with that AA degree and also transfer over to BC and complete the
remainder of those courses for the BA in industrial automation which by the
way I think speaks to the innovation of Bakersfield College when you think about
a bachelor’s degree they offered a degree in innovation I’m sorry
industrial automation which is an engineering based degree that can be
applied in any one of our industries here locally whether it’s logistics
whether its energy and oil production or Ag because you think about there is
automation and all — it almost sounds like BC has taken over what the high schools
gave up from when I was going there and that is the vocational stuff that you
know the in-between stuff that you don’t need a four-year degree but you don’t
need, you need something more than just high school because people graduating from
high school today just don’t have the tools, you can’t graduate from high
school and survive the way you could when I was growing up and I don’t
know about that for you, you graduated back in what late 90s late
1990s yes that’s correct but BC plays a critical role and community colleges
throughout the state play a very crucial role in creating a pipeline from
school to work and we have a very diverse student population so for
example you know we have some students who graduate high school come over to
Bakersfield College and they may need a little bit of help in terms of
developing those skills that they need to be successful over four years of
college and then you may have some of those students who are highly capable
students who are just sort of on a holding pattern you want to save a
little bit of money get some courses under their belt and then transfer to a
four-year institution and have a lighter load in terms of debt and then you have
some who are just kind of looking to get to work you know they’re struggling
maybe college wasn’t something they were interested in but they need a skill so
that they enter into the workforce so we see all sorts so going back to we have a
diverse student population very diverse needs and Bakersfield College is doing a
great job trying to meet those needs and now in partnership with these
institutions and other areas of the county we’re gonna do a better
job yep we are walking through the world of life and life is kicking our — no no not at
all hey welcome back we are talking with
Romeo Agbalog he is the first of all a member of the Board of Directors Kern
Community College District so I have to watch what I say he might correct my
paper and then he’s also Executive Director for Kern citizens for
sustainable government both very very intense and responsible organizations
and we’re honored to have Romeo on the program today we’ve been talking about
some of the innovations that are going on in the high school districts in
coordination with BC I wanted to get back to the subject of the charter
school that wonderful has because I — one of the questions I asked Lance Izumi was
are charter schools part of our future here are they being pretty much blocked
and talked down by the regular education people that view it as a turf
war what happens there and then
maybe we can kind of develop that into how the wonderful group in their
charter school is kind of funneling and working with McFarland
sure well Terry just let me preface my comments by saying that I am an advocate
for education and when I say I’m an advocate for education that means all
modalities mm-hmm so that means public schools public charter schools private
schools home schools I mean for me education is education and you can’t
really be an education advocate and want one group of students who happens to get
educated through a different system to fail right the only exception is when
you play football right you want one group to win over the other but with
that being said I support all modalities because you think about Kern County
being as diverse as it is in terms of population but industries we really need
the freedom and flexibility to have various options available to figure out
how we’re going to plug our students in to get them to the career
that they need to so let’s talk a little bit about the Wonderful Academy if
you’ve ever had an opportunity to go out to Delano and see the Wonderful Academy
it’s a phenomenal campus state-of-the-art wonderful campus now we
were able, by we say BC, we’re really able to test this guided pathways dual
enrollment sort of platform at wonderful because of some of the freedoms that
they have being structured as a charter school so we’re able to kind of fine
tune this program that could be elevated or scaled up to a traditional public
school setting which is where we got to where McFarland is at so McFarland did
some tremendous work on their end to structure their schedule and do the
things that it is that they’re doing and I’m really excited to see on your wall
you’ve got the McFarland USA movie poster there I mean this is — I was at the
premiere here in Bakersfield, I was a city councilman back then — yeah no I’m so happy to see the poster and I can’t stop talking about them and how
great they are but you know McFarland is a community that thirsts for education
and this is a program that’s gonna give that community a shot in the arm but
they have the opportunity here to lead the state our county perhaps even the
nation in terms of a model of how things can get done scaled up to an entire
campus that’s early college so the superintendent from McFarland Aaron Resendez actually traveled with us to Washington DC — I was gonna ask you how
many people went to Washington DC — well myself and Sonya Christian Dr.
Fowler and Aaron Resendez and so we were the delegation from Kern who
went to talk about the McFarland miracle to folks in Washington DC — did you show them
the movie first — well no — you probably should’ve — we probably should have yes that’s absolutely right but
we did a presentation here recently before the board of supervisors — you should have
gotten Kevin Costner to go with you well you know neither Aaron or I look
like Kevin Costner so we couldn’t even fake it but they were really excited about it
but you know I think McFarland now is gonna be able to serve as a model for
other public institutions throughout the valley if not the state and maybe even
nationally but I’ll tell you one thing and I don’t think Aaron would mind me
saying after our visit at Washington DC he got a phone call from a
superintendent in South Carolina who’d been wanting to do
something like this for years and just couldn’t figure out how to do it so
McFarland is a leader now nationally and you think about it what better
institution to lead than the ten-time cross country state champions now Romeo
we’re at the end of our time you know it also reminds me that the oak tree
starts from a little ol’ acorn that’s correct and you know you may be
growing the oak tree that helps to save the educational system of this nation
and it takes something like McFarland not just a movie but an educational
system that maybe shows some success and helps everybody out so thank you so much
for being here today from your lips to the Lord’s ears Thank You Terry
appreciate it — hey everybody we gotta take a break we’ll be right back

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *