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Public Schools Still Struggling With Enrollment Post-Pandemic

Public Schools Still Struggling With Enrollment Post-Pandemic

“Many of the deep-blue districts that kept schools closed the longest paid the biggest price”

It may take years for public education to get back to normal, if it ever does. It seems like the pandemic changed things for millions of Americans.

Reason reports:

Public Schools Must Face the Reality of Shrinking Enrollment

Three and a half years after the onset of the pandemic, enrollment losses are still hampering public schools, who depend largely on student counts to sustain their budgets and pay their staff. Data published in May 2023 by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) show that nationwide public school enrollments fell by 3 percent—around 1.4 million students—in the first year of the pandemic and remained at that lower level in the 2021–2022 school year. While national figures for the 2022–2023 school year aren’t available yet, state-level data from CaliforniaIllinoisNew York, and others show public school rolls still trending downward.

At this point, there’s every indication that the initial public school enrollment shocks from the pandemic won’t rebound any time soon. Educators need to be prepared for a new normal where school choice programs are widespread, families are increasingly choosing options outside of traditional public schools, and public school spending has to be reined in to serve smaller student populations.

Several factors explain why public school student populations are shrinking. Parents were dissatisfied with the prolonged periods of online learning and forced masking at their schools during the pandemic, and the negative effects on students of keeping schools closed have been well-documented. One analysis from the Associated Press found that from 2019 to 2022, “the average student lost more than half a school year of learning in math and nearly a quarter of a school year in reading.” Many of the deep-blue districts that kept schools closed the longest paid the biggest price for that decision, in terms of both enrollment losses and academic backsliding.

Meanwhile, the private education market seems to be booming. According to a study published in February 2022 by the Urban Institute, the pandemic exodus of students from public schools coincided with a sustained increase in private schooling and homeschooling. The 33 states (plus D.C.) with available data saw a more than 4 percent enrollment jump at private schools between fall 2019 and fall 2021—which is unsurprising, given that private schools returned to in-person learning much more quickly than public schools did.


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healthguyfsu | September 19, 2023 at 1:26 pm

Sounds like NY needs busloads of unaccompanied minors to refill their public school ranks.

They should be thanking Abbott.

American K-12 schools will never return to what they once were. Deal with it.

– – – – –

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Morning Sunshine | September 20, 2023 at 10:58 am

starve the beast. starve them of funding. Starve them of students. Starve them of good will.

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