Where are the students? For a second straight year, school enrollment is dropping

ByAnya Kamenetz, Mansee Khurana, and Cory Turner

The troubling enrollment losses that school districts reported last year have in many places continued this fall, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt public education across the country, an NPR investigation has found.

We compiled the latest headcount data directly from more than 600 districts in 23 states and Washington, D.C., including statewide data from Massachusetts, Georgia and Alabama. We found that very few districts, especially larger ones, have returned to pre-pandemic numbers. Most are now posting a second straight year of declines. This is particularly true in some of the nation’s largest systems:

New York City’s school enrollment dropped by about 38,000 students last school year and another 13,000 this year.

In Los Angeles, the student population declined by 17,000 students last school year, and nearly 9,000 this year.

In the Chicago public schools, enrollment dropped by 14,000 last year, and another 10,000 this year.

“When I talk to my colleagues … across the country, there’s a lot of concern right now,” says Chicago schools chief Pedro Martinez. “Pre-pandemic, we were already seeing enrollment decline. So it wasn’t that we had stability. What happened during COVID, we just saw an increase in the number that didn’t come.”

Read the full article here.

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