Public Preschool and Kindergarten Enrollment Down 13%, Most Significant Decrease In 21st Century


In the early days of the pandemic, millions of American parents found themselves suddenly forced to homeschool or supervise distance learning and Zoom lessons while balancing work and the emotional toll of a global crisis.

In the time since, the public school system has faced marked criticism and negative publicity as parents found themselves either disgruntled by ongoing negotiations with teachers’ unions over when in-person classes could resume or shocked and horrified to discover what their children were actually being taught in wildly ideological curricula and classroom instruction.

As interest grows in homeschooling and the school choice movement makes legislative gains in a number of states, parents have been showing up to school board meetings to loudly voice their objections to graphic, age-inappropriate sex-ed programs and lessons based on ideas known as critical race theory.

Now, we see a significant decrease in the number of parents who are enrolling their children in public early childhood education which shows a marked drop after a century of growth.

Overall, public school enrollment dropped 3% during the 2020-2021 school year according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which monitors education data for the federal government.

Just the News reports:

The 3% drop represents some 1.5 million students according to the preliminary report. A final report will not be available until next spring, according to the NCES. Figures come from reports generated by state departments of education.

There were 51.1 million students enrolled in conventional and public charter schools during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Even more stark is the drop in enrollment among younger students. Preschool enrollment fell by 22%, and preschool and kindergarten enrollment combined dropped 13%.

By contrast, high school enrollment fell by 0.4%.

We can probably safely guess that the smallest decrease was among older students because parents are more likely to want to keep those already established at their local schools enrolled through the culmination of their schooling.

We could probably also safely guess that there is a far more marked decrease among younger students because alternative schooling is, indeed, trending, however.
The federal agency says that this is the most notable decrease in early childhood education in a century.

“K-12 enrollment in our nation’s public schools has been increasing almost every year since the start of this century,” Santy said in a statement. “Before this year, in the few recent years where we have seen enrollment decreases, they have been small changes representing less than 1 percent of total enrollment.”

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