As we continue to play the blame game about the Montgomery public school situation, it is interesting to see what has happened in Inglewood, CA since the state took over its school system in 2012.
As an article in the Los Angeles Times titled: “Six years after the state came in to save Inglewood Unified, the district faces a budget crisis, buildings in disrepair and lack of steady leadership,” the system has not been helped by intervention.
You can see the entire article by going here. Let’s share some highlights.
“Inglewood Unified had been nearly insolvent when it was taken over by the state Department of Education in 2012. Six years later, its enrollment was still declining. Its school buildings were tired — some edging into decrepitude. Its test scores and graduation rates were still below the state average. And the public was out of patience.
When the California Department of Education stepped in to save Inglewood’s schools after decades of mismanagement, it had a mandate to bring financial stability. Instead, the district has cycled through three leaders — not including interim appointees — chosen by Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. None has stayed long. The chaos of constant turnover has contributed to uncertainty over whether the school system still can be saved.
“At this point, parents are blaming the state,” said Maria Gray-McKinley, president of the council that oversees Inglewood’s parent teacher associations. “Not one of these people they’ve put in charge of us has made any serious impact. We’re just going down, down, down.”
Asked to explain how Inglewood fell into a budget crisis while under state control, Bill Ainsworth, a spokesman for the California Department of Education, attributed the shortfall to “overly optimistic enrollment projections” and the rising cost of special education services.
“District finances also continue to be strained as a result of declining enrollment and the increasing number of the district’s students enrolling in charter schools,” Ainsworth wrote in a statement that admitted no error or responsibility on the state’s part.
Inglewood Unified’s enrollment has declined by more than one-third in the last decade, an extreme example of trends manifesting in districts all over the state. Falling birthrates, gentrification and charter school growth have hollowed out its schools, prompting some parents and teachers to call for a moratorium on new charter school openings.
As the district loses students overall, the percentage of its students who qualify for expensive special education services is growing. About 18% of Inglewood Unified students meet this criteria, compared with 12% of Los Angeles County students.
Turning around any school district in such straits would be difficult, but Inglewood Unified is caught in a particularly destructive cycle. In California, public school funding is linked to enrollment, and the district’s slide has lost it millions of dollars. Part of its response has been to cut after-school programs and extracurricular offerings that had attracted families, giving them new reasons to leave.”
Does any of this sound familiar to people who live in Montgomery?