Enrollment in plateau public schools likely to drop due to COVID

The number of public school enrollments has been stable for years, but various factors have caused this number to drop. The first, of course, is the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Between schools switching to virtual classrooms and the subsequent return to in-person classes with or without a mask and vaccine warrant, parents have found alternative schooling options for their children. Many families, particularly noting a growing trend among black families, have turned to home schooling.

“Home schooling figures show that parents see that our education system does not meet a certain need and they have the desire to meet education as they see fit in their households”, Dr. Carlene Reid , a representative for Ward 8 SBOE in Washington, DC, told the Washington Informant.

A drop in enrollment can have lasting effects. In Washington state, the Seattle Public School District reported 1,300 fewer students at the start of the 2021-2022 school year. This will take around $ 28 million of their state funding for the 2022-2023 school year.

In New York, an internal Department of Education memo explained that officials visiting schools saw a 20% drop in enrollment, with COVID fears overriding Mayor Bill de Blasio’s optimism for schools to reopen without remote option. The mayor told reporters earlier this month that everything was overkill.

“I don’t know about the memo and, you know, it’s a massive organization,” de Blasio told reporters at a recent press briefing. “So I find that this is also another area of ​​confusion, where you take a single memo from one person, and then anyone tries to determine that it’s the broadest truth. It can. there being some individual schools where the numbers suggest that it was worth putting more effort into reaching these children and families and making sure they were aware of what was going on in their school, or they had moved to another school or wanted to go to another school.

But, despite a mayor’s choice to see the new school year as a triumph, the drop in attendance is also hurting other students.

“Even in a situation where you get blanket cuts, the impact and pain of those cuts is felt most deeply by the schools and the children who need the help the most,” Michael Leachman, vice president of the state tax policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said during a webinar in January.

In projections for the 2021-2022 school year, educationdata.org predicted that the 7.6 million black students enrolled in public schools will represent a decline of 0.2% from the previous year. American Indian / Alaska Native students and White students are expected to experience a larger decline.

With pivots to home schooling and other forms of education, black parents have more of a say in their children’s education. Whether through specially designed online programs or the creation of some of their own, parents are able to teach their children aspects of history that are not traditionally taught in public schools.

On top of that, black students face additional challenges in school. They are suspended and referred to law enforcement at higher rates than their classmates, and often face unequal penalties. Numerous studies conducted during the pandemic have shown that the pandemic is wreaking havoc on the mental health of the black community.

When the AmNews filed a FOIL request for the prices and number of tablets purchased for distance learning in 2020, the city’s Department of Education gave us documents showing they had purchased 310,000 iPads which cost $ 379 each. But schools are between a rock and a hard place with the pandemic pushing children away, the lack of remote options (in some places) preventing students from progressing academically, and the sense of loneliness that accompanies the fact. to stay home while their friends see each other. other.

“The pandemic has exacerbated feelings of non-belonging and insignificance; the already tenuous relationship between schools and black boys has frayed, ”Roderick L. Carey, professor at the University of Delaware and creator of The Black Boy Mattering Project, told Chalkbeat. “We can use COVID as a miraculous opportunity to change schools for the better. “

When the United States went into lockdown in March 2020, there was speculation the country would have another baby boom because people wouldn’t have much else to do when they were. stuck at home. This has proven not only to be wrong, but the reverse: birth rates in the United States have been declining every year since 2014.

Before the pandemic, the poor state of the economy and societal changes associated with having smaller families and founding them later were already having an impact on the birth rate in this country. In addition to leading to a drop in school enrollment, a drop in the birth rate will be felt in all facets of society.

“The fact that it comes right after a long, continuous decline in births makes its impacts worse,” Phillip Levine, economics professor at Wellesley College, told CNN. “In reality, it is not the 300,000 births less than once [as a result of COVID], it is the hundreds of thousands of fewer births each year that are likely to have substantial impacts on society.

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