The area covered by BACAE comprises a large area in the Northeast of San Bernardino County, which includes the City of Barstow, smaller townships such as Baker, Newberry Springs, Yermo, Daggett and Hinkley, as well as Ft. Irwin and the Marine Logistics Base. The Northeast of San Bernardino County is generally economically less well-resourced than the parts closer to the Inland Empire/Los Angeles basin, which expresses itself in income and education levels. There are substantive differences also within the area: for instance, 80 % of Baker residents are of Hispanic origin, compared to 34 % in the city and consequently a much larger portion does not speak English at home. We show census data for the City of Barstow and some also for the surrounding townships to give an indication of the differences across the BACAE area.
2020 Census Data for the City of Barstow
The population of the City of Barstow is approximately 25,442
18.6% of the adult population is without HS Diploma or equivalency;
26.4% speak a language other than English at home;
19 % of households do not have a computer or Internet access;
13.1 % with a disability, under 65 years;
The median age is 30, compared to 36 in CA;
Median income is 43K, compared to 79K in CA;
30 % are at or below the poverty line, compared to 13 % in CA; 42 % of those under 18.
10 % have a Bachelor or higher, compared to 30 % in CA;
50 % are not US citizens;
47 % Employment rate, as compared to 59 % in CA; also, there is a large range in employment rate in the different townships (from a high of 75 % to a low of 27 %);
17 % Disabled persons, as compared to 10 % in CA;
10 % Veterans, also higher than the CA average.
Challenges for Adult Education Programs
The majority of the residents of Barstow and the surrounding townships are below the poverty line, are less educated, and are more dependent on government subsidies than the average Californian. The complexity of these conditions makes entry into, and persistence in, an educational path very difficult. Members of the community describe the population characteristics as a split between approximately 25 % having livable wages, and some having post-secondary education, while approximately 75 % of the residents have low-paying jobs/unemployed, and lacking the ability to express themselves competently in English, straddling the poverty line and close to becoming homeless. Barstow sees more migration than other parts of California and San Bernardino County. Folks migrate into the area drawn by the lower cost of living. Migration has its own cost, however. Families without pre-existing connections in the area tend to live in isolation and may end up jobless and homeless. Many in the lower income bracket live on fixed income or on disability. Children of these families often cannot attend school regularly, receive little healthcare, and are in danger of dropping out of school and becoming the next low-income, low-educated generation. The age group below 18 is especially threatened by poverty (42 %)! Transportation remains a barrier to those not technologically connected, which has become a smaller portion under the Covid pandemic. Communities are spread out over a large territory, most without public transportation. The resident population is multilingual and multi-cultural, with Spanish being the dominant language after English. 50 % of residents are not US citizens and many are also undocumented immigrants, who would rather remain invisible to government authorities. This accounts for some of the difficulty in reaching different population groups. Reaching out to the different population groups and growing their trust is a major undertaking fraught with linguistic and cultural barriers.
The pandemic has exacerbated problems associated with work schedules and shift changes. Many families saw their breadwinners turn into caregivers of older adults and young children during sickness and quarantine. Personal finances have been affected due to loss of employment or work hours during the pandemic.
BACAE will prioritize programming that improves access and success for underserved adult populations. It will support increased outreach efforts and strategies to provide better access to student support services. There will be continued emphasis on Basic Skills, ESL, HSD/GED, and Digital Literacy. Members will leverage resources to offer expanded CTE programs based on regional labor market needs. Each district member will support and facilitate professional development opportunities that improve the effectiveness of instructors and other staff across program areas. In order to maximize the number of AE students served, BACAE district members will offer classes in-person, online, and in hybrid form.