Plummeting public school enrollment doesn't appear to be returning to pre-pandemic numbers, causing some schools to risk financial crisis.
School funding is tied to enrollment.
US public schools have lost more than 1.2 million students since 2020, according to a national survey which shows roughly a 2 percent drop across the country.
The trend is concentrated in major urban centers. Since 2020, New York City has lost approximately 50,000 students from their public school system, while the Los Angeles Unified School District’s non-charter schools lost approximately 43,000 students over the past two years. During the same time period, public schools in Chicago lost approximately 25,000 students.
Rural areas are facing the same problem. In Woodbury County, Iowa, student enrollment in the Westwood Community School District declined by more than 5 percent over the last two years, despite an influx of new residents moving in from larger cities during the pandemic.
In Olathe, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, one district had more than 1,000 students leave in 2020, out of approximately 33,000 students.
Student enrollment in Michigan is more than 50,000 lower than pre-pandemic numbers.
In Washington state in 2022, K-12 enrollment in public schools is projected to be below 2016 levels. The 2020-2021 school year saw over 40,000 students leave the system, while forecasting showed the loss of over another 1,400 students for 2021-2022.
In California, more than 250,000 students have left the public school systems since 2019.
Public school enrollment was on the decline before the pandemic, but the new numbers far exceeded previous trends.
Parents in Washington state told The Post Millennial they pulled their children during the pandemic due to lack of in-person instruction and the low quality of education offered online.
Other parents cited radical curriculum as the reason for the exodus. A parent who wished to remain anonymous told The Post Millennial, "I did not realize what my kids were being taught until I had to listen to it every day in my living room."
Despite millions of dollars funnelled into districts as part of the American Rescue Plan and other COVID-era bailouts, and lower operation costs stemming from online learning during the pandemic, many districts still had budget shortfalls.
Conversely, there was very little public school attrition in states that did not lock down. In Florida, public school enrollment remained consistent, despite considerable increases in homeschooling. This is likely due to the amount of people moving to the state from places like California.
The American Enterprise Instituted found that "In Fall 2021, enrollments rebounded in districts that spent 2020-21 mostly in-person. Those that stayed remote longer, saw even more students leave."