The plunge in enrollment proves NYC schools are failing families
The union-backed push to bloat school funding keeps growing, even as enrollment figures show outlays should be cut. Yet the problem is far bigger than wasted dollars: New York families clearly see city schools failing to serve their needs and are abandoning them in droves.
As The Post’s Cayla Bamberger reported last week, Gotham’s regular public schools are now on track to lose another 30,000 kids by year’s end. That extends a decade-long trend that’s seen thousands fleeing every year, including a mind-blowing 120,000 kids these past five years alone.
Total K-12 enrollment in Department of Education schools back in 2000-2001 topped 1.1 million, versus just 919,000 in 2021-22, a 17% drop (at a time when the city’s population was growing). By next year, the loss may top 20%.
“We have a massive hemorrhaging of students — massive hemorrhaging,” frets Mayor Eric Adams. “We’re in a very dangerous place in the number of students that we are dropping.” Darn right.
What’s behind the decline? Some of it may be the 300,000 New Yorkers who left the city during the pandemic (between April 2020 and June 2021), per the Census Bureau.
Some of those people have returned now, and others may. But crime, high taxes, disgusting streets and, yes, lousy schools have plainly driven many away for good. Especially those who can keep working remotely from somewhere else.
Yet enrollment at public charter schools is up 9% since the pandemic’s start, per the New York Charter School Center; Catholic schools are booming, too. Which suggests that families are mainly fleeing not the city but the city-run, teachers-union-dominated schools.
For many, the pandemic was the last straw: Kids lost months of education thanks to closed schools and the joke of DOE remote “learning.” Parents also got a peek at curriculum that focused on things like social justice at the expense of reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic.
Yet the United Federation of Teachers, its stooges on the City Council and some parents are now griping about minuscule cuts to the budgets of schools whose enrollments have dropped precipitously and so need fewer teachers.
Hello: Back in 2000-1, the DOE budget was $11.5 billion, or $10,400 a student; it’s now $31 billion, or $34,900 for each kid. That’s per-student spending growth of more than twice inflation — yet families are fleeing by the boatload. Funding’s not the problem.
If the UFT doesn’t start supporting efforts to drastically improve DOE schools to keep enrollment up, it’s going to find its active membership imploding along with the rest of the system.