NYC Public-School Enrollment Plummets during Pandemic

NYC Public-School Enrollment Plummets during Pandemic

Jodi Cook helps her son off the school bus in Brooklyn, N.Y., September 20, 2021.
(Hannah Beier/Reuters)

New York City public-school enrollment dropped by about 17,000 students this year, with a drop of roughly 64,000 since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to preliminary data released by the city’s Department of Education on Friday.

The city school district, which is the largest public-school system in the U.S., enrolled roughly 938,000 students in fall 2021 compared with 955,000 the previous year. The district saw a 1.9-percent decline in enrollment this year compared with a 4.7-percent decline in 2020, when districts across the country switched to virtual learning. Large school districts struggled to transition to online classes, and the New York DOE provided iPads to thousands of homeless students to ensure they could participate in remote learning.

However, enrollment in the district’s charter schools continued to climb, albeit at a slightly slower pace than in previous years. Roughly 4,000 new students enrolled in charters this fall, compared with 10,000 new students the previous year.

Including charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately managed, there are over a million students enrolled at New York public schools. The DOE has reported declines in enrollment since 2016, with 2020 seeing the sharpest drop, while charter-school enrollment rose from 114,000 total students in 2016 to 143,000 this year.

DOE officials contended that New York was in a better position than other large districts, saying that Los Angeles and Chicago each lost a greater percentage of students.

“As the nation’s largest school district we’ve been impacted by the nationwide enrollment fluctuation that impacted schools across the country, and this data shows enrollment is stabilizing as we continue our City’s incredible recovery,” DOE spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon said in a statement to the media.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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