Nearly Four Years In, Public School Enrollment Still Falters

( – Enrollment in public schools has continued to drop over three years after the pandemic as families continue to seek alternative options like private schools and homeschooling, the Washington Examiner reported.

Between the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 school years, US public schools lost over one million students. While the decline has since leveled off, the students lost have not returned to public schools.

In Illinois, over 100,000 students left public schools between the 2019/2020 and 2022/2023 school years. Virginia public school enrollment remains over 30,000 students lower today than it was during the 2019/2020 school year.

Meanwhile, in California, enrollment in public schools declined by over 200,000 since the pandemic lockdowns.

Since funding is allocated to states based on enrollment data, the decline in public school students is having a noticeable impact on school districts throughout the country.

However, as enrollment in public schools drops, enrollment in private schools and homeschooling has increased, suggesting that this is what parents are choosing over public schools.

Private school enrollment overall remained steady during the pandemic lockdowns, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

While Catholic schools saw an initial decline in enrollment during the 2020/2021 school year, they have since rebounded, with over 70,000 additional students enrolling in the past two years.

The single largest increase in enrollment, however, was in homeschooling, the option that soared during the early months of the lockdowns.

Before the pandemic lockdowns, the number of homeschooled students was about 1.5 million. By 2023, it was estimated that the number of homeschooled students could be as high as 2.7 million.

A declining birth rate has also contributed to the decline in public school enrollment. Since 2007, the birth rate in the United States dropped by 22 percent.

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