Perhaps the greatest migration out of our country’s public schools took place since the COVID-19 pandemic, as noted on Monday by the Daily Caller, which cited a recent survey of public school enrollment numbers since 2020.
The decline was steepest in schools that adopted enduring virtual learning methods during the pandemic as opposed to having in-person classes.
The report notes:
The data from the American Enterprise Institute‘s Return to Learn Tracker found that 1,268,000 students had left public schools since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. After school closures during the Spring 2020 semester, enrollment fell by 2.5% in the Fall semester of that year. In the Fall of 2021, schools that returned to in-person learning saw some recovery in enrollment numbers, while those that adopted virtual learning methods suffered.
In the 2021-2022 school year, school districts that maintained a largely remote learning experience saw enrollment drop by 1.2% in that year, for a net loss since 2020 of 1 in 22 students. Districts that went in person in the 2021-2022 school year saw a recovery of 0.9%, for a net loss of only 1 in 93 students.
There is more.
The enrollment declines varied according to the grade level, but here is a breakdown:
— Most remote districts lost 8.1 percent of kindergarten students, 6.2 percent of elementary students, and 2.6 percent of middle school students.
— Only in high schools was there a slight uptick in enrollment — just two-tenths of a percent.
In addition, enrollment numbers differed according to political leanings. Most school districts former President Donald Trump won made a degree of recovery during the 2021-22 school year following initial declines in enrollment. By comparison, enrollment in blue districts that went for President Biden continued to decline.
Nat Malkus, Deputy Director of Education Policy at the American Enterprise Institute, said the data could be partly explained by the fact that many parents chose to move away from areas in the country where school districts prioritized remote learning during the pandemic.
“After the full pandemic school year where schools spent a lot of time remote, you saw a disproportionate share of families make the decision to vote with their feet,” Malkus told the Daily Caller.
Homeschooling as an option continues to increase among parents as well. In the spring of 2020, some 5.4 percent of U.S. households homeschooled their kids, but that figure rose to 11 percent by the fall of that year.
Malkus went on to note that the question will be whether parents who chose a homeschooling option during pandemic school closures will stick with it if and when their local schools fully reopen.
“You could say, ‘I’m homeschooling during the pandemic,’ but I think that’s gonna be a different sort of homeschooling in many cases than you’re gonna find pre-pandemic where it was homeschooling embarked on outside of an emergency,” Malkus told the outlet.
Meanwhile, the data show that school districts that offered in-person classes did significantly better in recovering enrollment numbers after the first year of the pandemic than did districts that remained mostly remote.
“I think it shows that the decision to be remote longer has consequences,” Malkus said of the trend.
Throw in a left-wing ‘woke’ curriculum and it’s easy to understand why many more parents are choosing education options for their children other than public schools.