L.A. schools have a plan to reverse enrollment woes: Recruit newborn babies to save your job
Babies from low-income neighborhoods could soon be added to the Los Angeles Unified School District payroll, thanks to a new effort to reverse the enrollment crisis in the nation’s second-largest school system.
The plan builds on the idea of a “back-to-birth program” pioneered in San Diego County that was lauded as a way to reverse declining enrollments.
“When there’s a problem, we’re not very good at solving the problem. This idea of creating a birth-based model is the first time we’ve seen that being used in any kind of a way in this country,” said Jennifer Rodriguez, head of the Los Angeles schools.
Since 2011 the district has been able to enroll babies at its public schools with the help of more than $4.7 million in federal grants, grants from other governments and state assistance.
But parents who send their newborns to private preschools or homebirths still have to pay fees and are often turned away.
The district’s proposal to add babies to the payrolls of high stakes elementary schools would address both challenges. Parents would be reimbursed for the cost of tuition or would be able to use money from a child’s birth certificate to cover the remaining fees. And the district would make it easier to enroll in kindergarten.
More than 2,000 California babies have been added to the payrolls of schools since the program began, according to a district spokesman.
It is the latest effort the district has undertaken to address a crisis that has seen enrollment at some schools fall by more than 30 percent since 2010.
Rodriguez said she is concerned the approach could worsen class sizes in the fall and that the high school system is already in a severe financial bind because of the decline in enrollments and the