The ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic shutdown in certain parts of the United States in 2020 and 2021 are starting to become more pronounced in the education sector.
New enrollment data reveals that nearly 2 million fewer students attended public schools in the U.S. between 2020 and 2021. According to Education Next, a publication that tracks education research policy, district-operated schools lost 4% of their students in the 2020 and 2021 academic years as parents pursued other avenues for their children's education.
Citing the parental responses to Education Next's data, 81% of U.S. schoolchildren in the spring of 2020 were enrolled in district schools. By November of the same year, however, that figure had dropped to 72% enrolled.
Education Next attributes the enrollment decline to parents removing their children from district schools, in lieu of private schools or charter academies.
The transition to home schooling likely played a credible role in the enrollment decline, as well. According to Education Next, roughly 7% of U.S. children were home-schooled in 2020 — a rate that has essentially doubled from 2016.
At the same time, Education Next speculates that some parents might have improperly responded to the online poll — given the complexities of defining their child's academic experience.
Private school enrollment has gone up 10% from the last two school years.
And the number of U.S. children attending charter schools cumulatively rose 7% in the same two-year cycle.
The early returns for 2022 suggest a tangible bounce-back, according to Education Next, with school district enrollment hovering around 77%.
Last year, Newsmax chronicled a U.S. Census Bureau educational survey that found less than half of 3- and 4-year-olds were enrolled in school in 2020 — marking the first year since 1996 that enrollment numbers had failed to hit the 50% threshold.
Also, nursery school enrollment "fell by 25% (from 4.7 million to 3.5 million), and in kindergarten by 9% (4.1 million to 3.7 million)," and "the number of 3- to 4-year-old children of working mothers enrolled in nursery school declined by 35% from 2019 to 2020, compared with a 10% decrease of other enrolled 3- to 4 year-olds (the overall decrease was 26%)."
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