Parents flee public school system as charter schools see surge in enrollment

Enrollment in New York schools is down while charter schools are seeing student numbers increase, according to a report released Wednesday by the Manhattan Institute.

Across all New York City schools, enrollment declined with 80,707 fewer K-12 students enrolled in the most recent school year compared to the 2019-20 school year, the report said. The drop was most pronounced at schools operated by the New York City Department of Education (NYDOE), where enrollment fell by 83,656 students, the largest drop the NYDOE has seen.

Religious and private schools in New York lost about 8,100 students while enrollment in charter schools increased by more than 11,000 students, according to the report. Private and religious schools in New York City saw a 7.7% decline, while the decline in public school enrollment is more pronounced, falling 14% over the past six years.

Charter school enrollment has increased by 45,666, or 48.4%, over the past six years in New York City, the Manhattan Institute reported. Some of the blame for the decline of public schools can be attributed to the pandemic; although the trends have been occurring for several years, according to the report. (RELATED: ‘Cynical Symbolism’: Biden’s Education Department Issues New Rules to Crush Charter Schools)

New York City Department of Education Chancellor David C. Banks attributed the decline to parents “voting with their feet.”

Elementary students return to PS 188 as the city’s public schools open for in-person learning on September 29, 2020 in New York City. Middle and high school students will start on October 1, while kindergarten students and students with disabilities can return to school from September 21. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The surge in charter school enrollment is not limited to New York; Haywood County in North Carolina has seen a 5% drop in enrollment, losing more than 500 students in public schools since the start of the pandemic, The Mountaineer reported Saturday. The decline in enrollment in Haywood County is above the national average of 3%.

Haywood County’s only public charter school, Shining Rock Classical Academy, saw a 32.4% increase in enrollment over last year and a 43.5% increase over the previous year. Mountaineer reported.

California public schools hit lowest enrollment in 20 years, losing 110,000 students, The Orange County Register reported in April. Michigan Public Schools is again trying to fill schools with an increase of 6,000 enrollment, but total enrollment remains 56,000 lower than in the 2019 school year, Bridge Michigan reported in March.

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