There’s a Reason Why Public School Enrollment Still Has Not Rebounded

AP Photo/Ron Harris

It looks like the mass exodus from public schools is still in effect. Rates of homeschooling and enrollment in private schools are still on the rise as parents increasingly are pulling their children out of government-run institutions.

Much of the decline in public school enrollment resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown orders. But even after the coronavirus is no longer a boogeyman, parents are not choosing to take their kids back to these schools.

The Washington Times reported:

The Oregon Department of Education reports public school enrollment dropped from 582,661 in 2019-2020 to 550,020 in April — and it’s on track to drop again this month.

The report also noted that this trend is also playing out in Washington state where “homeschooling groups are seeing record growth as public schools project years of decline.”

The author continued:

According to the Seattle Public Schools, enrollment in the citywide district has fallen yearly from 53,630 students in 2019-2020 to a projected 49,550 this year. The district projects enrollment will keep declining steadily to 46,910 students in the 2025-2026 school year.

Statewide, the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction reports the number of homeschooling students swelled from 20,844 children in October 2019 to 32,056 in October 2021.

On the other hand, Catholic schools are seeing a drastic uptick in K-12 enrollment. Kathleen Porter-Magee, superintendent of Partnership Schools, participated in a study conducted by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), whose findings “reveal a historic 3.8% nationwide enrollment increase for all Catholic elementary and secondary schools.”

This was “the first increase in two decades and the largest recorded increase by NCEA.”

I spoke with Porter-Magee on my podcast, and she further explained this new development, noting that Catholic schools were the first to open amid the pandemic, which attracted many more parents.

Burbio, a school tracking website, reported the sharpest drop in New York, “where enrollment fell by more than 48,000 students 2020-2021,” according to the Washington Times.

Another factor in this equation is the fact that many parents have moved from lockdown-crazy states like New York and California to states like Texas and Florida.

Gallup recently released a poll showing a serious drop in the percentage of parents indicating they are satisfied with the quality of the nation’s K-12 education.

But it is not only lockdown orders that is motivating more parents to abandon public schools. The other issue is the apparent decline in the quality of education children are receiving at these institutions. The Department of Education published a report detailing the precipitous drop in test scores.

“In 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducted a special administration of the NAEP long-term trend (LTT) reading and mathematics assessments for age 9 students to examine student achievement during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the department explained.

“Average scores for age 9 students in 2022 declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020,” the report stated. “This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first-ever score decline in mathematics.”

Combined with the rising awareness that school districts are infusing the curriculum with far-left progressive ideology, it is not hard to see why more parents are looking at educational alternatives for their children. Nobody wants to send their kids to a place that is not only providing substandard education but also trying to turn them into left-wing activists more concerned about microaggressions than learning how to do math. This is not stopping progressives from pushing this agenda, which means more people will be homeschooling and placing their kids in public and charter schools.


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