Just 12 months ago Ed Richardson was the interim state superintendent and since the state had intervened in the Montgomery County system, he was also the “czar” of this system. He constantly painted an extremely bleak future for MPS. One of his favorite things to do was make a big deal out of the fact that enrollment in the system dropped from 29,903 in school year 2016-17 to 29,124 in 2017-18.
A decrease of 779 students. To hear him tell it, the only reason for this decline was the dismal governance of the MPS school board and the quality of education being offered. (And even though enrollment declined in more than one-half of the state’s 137 systems in the same period, this was never mentioned.)
Numbers are now available for the current year of 2018-19. And to no one’s surprise, enrollment continues to drop. Statewide we lost 4,712 students from last year to this year. Of our 137 school systems, 93 have fewer students now than a year ago.
Montgomery is the center of what is locally called the “river region.” There are nine systems in this area. Montgomery, Macon, Elmore, Bullock, Crenshaw, Lowndes and Autauga counties and Pike Road and Tallassee city systems.
Of these, eight have lost students in the last 12 months. Only Pike Road has seen an upturn in student population. Enrollment in the region is 760 less than in 2017-18.
Does this mean eight of the nine systems have weak school boards, poor governance and teachers who can’t teach?
Is the sauce that’s good for the goose also good for the gander? Or do we sometimes yield to the temptation to make numbers fit our narrative?