Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Inglewood Unified Not out of the Fiscal Woods

Inglewood Unified School District is one of the most corrupt and dysfunctional districts in Los Angeles County. A report as far back as 1998 in LA Weekly  exposed a culture of failure and outrageous misconduct from administrators and classified personnel.

The enrollment for this district has plummeted in recent years, to such drastic lows that for two years in a row it seemed as if the school would inevitably enter into receivership.

While I was earning my credential at Cal State Long Beach, one of the teachers-in-training whom I was working with also worked as a substitute teacher in Inglewood. He reported that most subs would show up to work and talk on the phone all day. Some idealized graduate students, "true believers" in public education had stooped down from their Ivory Towers of Harvard and Yale to reach out to the poor, urban, "ghetto kids."

That young man had overcome some really circumstances in his life. He had emancipated himself from his biological parents and was adopted by one of his teachers just before he reached majority. It was an inspiring story, and at the time he was earning a credential so that he could give back to the same students who were in the place where he was.

Still, his comments about Inglewood were anything but glowing.

As a substitute in the Lawndale District, I remember one elementary school teachers telling me how after eight years, she got so fed up with the corruption, that she left the district.

As a substitute at Leuzinger High School,  I talked with students who actually lived in Inglewood, but they preferred to enroll at Leuzinger, a school which to them was a marked improvement over their local high schools. For years, Leuzinger had one of the poorest reputations, so I was quite surprised when students told me that LZ was a better alternative to anything that was available to them in Inglewood.

Last year, as a substitute for the county, I received a phone call informing me that I was assigned to be a substitute teacher of Inglewood Unified, even though at the time I was not on call to that district,  nor did I have any intention of working there. The human resources technician for Inglewood Unified informed me that I just needed to bring some paperwork in order to register as a subsitute for the district. The real issue, that my name was dropped and then implemented for the Inglewood sublist, still escaped this person. I thought that was a big problem, considering that I had assumed such information would remain confidential. As a county employee, my name was released to the Inglewood staff as a relief effort for the district, since they could not get enough substitute teachers. This was 2011, at a time when the district was already facing multi-million dollar shortfalls, with employees facing the prospect of not even getting paid.

And the Inglewood staff actually assumed that I was going to pull up stakes and take off north of Imperial Highway to cover classes for a week? They had even assigned me to the classes without my permisssion, so I cancelled right away.

Another student informed me about the growing number of charter schools breaking out in the region. The residents of that community wanted something better, and therer were plenty of entrepreneurs who would go out of their way to cull enrollment from the hordes of dissatisfied students and parents in the Inglewood area.

One young man whom I now who works near me told me that his parents pulled every string to enroll him in Westchester High School, as far away as possible from Inglewood Unified.

I could go on and on with the stories, both personal and in print, which I have learned about dictating and indicting Inglewood schools for their poor performance and culture of intellectual impoverishment.

The LA Times reported that parents got tired of the poor education that their children were receiving, or rather enduring. Teachers were unable to control their classrooms. Students were learning nothing, faring poorly on the standardized tests, even though on their report cards they were earning A's and B's. This kind of ghetto pity-pandering is prominent in urban public schools, a travesty of the public education model from which working-class parents cannot escape.

In California Crusader News , I read at the back of the paper every week for months about  a new middle school that was being built on La Tijera Blvd. This new school, later showcased once again in the LA Times, turned out to be another multi-million dollar boondoggle which failed to shore up the bleeding enrollment fleeing the district. The huge, risky investment turned out to be the very waste which certainly every share-holder and community member predicted that it would.

Such startlingly poor decisions cannot go unchecked for much longer. This nonsense is insany, pure and simple. Just revisiting these poor fiscal judgment should motivate men in power to demand a dissolution of school district bureaucracy without fail.

Now Inglewoood Unified is going to receive a $54 million loan, more non-money thrown after bad form the broken and broke Sacramento machine. The state superintendent will be taking over the school district to make the most of the public education debacle into which the neighborhood youth have been force to fess up to and dispense with.

 When will this insanity stop? More government, more waste, more fraud, more leaders and teachers reaching for the sky instead of helping students to reach for the stars. Inglewood once again is lost, lost, lost in the fiscal woods, with no light to shine the way out.

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