After a historic year-over-year enrollment decline of 2.5% in the 2020-21 school year, K-12 public assistance has stubbornly refused to recover. Two new studies further indicate that the largest two-year declines are strongly correlated with more restrictive school-opening policies, especially in large Democratic-controlled cities.
The kids never came back to big-city public schools, and now districts face budgetary "Armageddon."
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) released a report on Wednesday showing that nationwide enrollment in government-run public schools in the 46 states surveyed fell an additional 0.2% in 2021-22, but with a measurable distribution at the end of the pandemic. school policies. The most remote school districts lost an average of 1.2% more enrollment in 2021-22, contributing to a 4.4% decline over two years; while the most open districts have recovered 0.9% this year and lost just 1.1% overall since COVID-19 hit.
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The divergence in school policies against the pandemic has never been correlated with comparative rates of spread on campus, but rather with the comparative concentration of locally powerful Democratic voters and teacher unions. These factors, along with the high cost of living and historically low immigration rates, have combined to make the last two years an annihilation on the lists of largest cities.
New York City, the largest district in the country, has lost 9.5% of students since COVID-19 began. Los Angeles Unified, the second largest, where unions were particularly successful in getting most of the restrictions and compensation they wanted, the student body shrank 8.1%. School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, in an article earlier this month in The 74 Million, described the confluence of declining enrollment and the depletion of nearly $200 billion in federal COVID emergency relief funds in schools. K-12 schools as potentially "Armageddon."
Unless the long-term trend of Angelenos fleeing the public school system is somehow reversed, Carvalho warned, "it's going to be a hurricane of massive proportions."
The only two of the top 10 school districts in the country that have not lost population since the pandemic hit are in Florida (Orange and Hillsborough counties), where Governor Ron DeSantis ordered schools to open by executive order in the fall. of 2020. Of the 46 According to an AEI study, only four students were added to its public schools: heavily Republican South Dakota, Utah, North Dakota and South Dakota. The six states that lost between 0 and 1 percent during that time, including Florida and Texas, are also Republican strongholds.
“The way schools are run has affected family decisions,” Nat Malkus, deputy director for education policy studies at AEI, told The Washington Post.
School tracking service Burbio earlier this month published a study of 2021-2022 enrollment trends in 40 states, breaking down the data into the four main geographic designations used by the National Center for Education Statistics: rural, urban, suburban. and urban. Notably, only the "city" category experienced a drop this year:
"The effects of the recent sharp drop in enrollment could be long-lasting," Thomas Dee, a professor of education at Stanford University, told The 74 Million. "The fiscal consequences will remain for some time."
K-12 spending represents approximately 20% of all state and local government spending. If the customer base of this free product continues to reject it in favor of more expensive options, not only will education budgets (which are usually tied to enrollment numbers) shrink, but political enthusiasm for paying the price will likely fade. through taxes. .
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The United States was a global exception when it came to the number of public school closures and restrictions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in particular, has played a key institutional role in mixing messages and producing mindless excess of caution. Remote learning has not only pushed students away, it has relegated those left behind to staggering learning losses. We still don't understand the full extent of the coup, but what public education legislators have done to public schools over the past two years will likely go down as one of the most egregious acts of institutional self-harm in the 21st century.