Story at a glance
- A new poll from Education Next, an education policy publication, found that enrollment in public schools has dropped by 4 percent over the last two years.
- That 4 percent decline represents nearly 2 million students.
- The poll also found that the number of children attending charter schools, private schools and being homeschooled have gone up.
Almost 2 million students stopped attending public schools between 2020 and 2021, enrollment data shows.
In a recent poll from Education Next, district-operated schools lost 4 percent of their students during those two years, with those children enrolling in other types of schooling.
In the spring of 2020, 81 percent of schoolchildren in the United States were enrolled in district schools, according to parental response to the poll.
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By November of that year, enrollment in district schools had plummeted to 72 percent, according to Education Next numbers.
Education Next poll crafters acknowledged in a statement that that decline could stem from parents choosing to remove their children from district schools to charter or private schools, but the decline could also be linked to parents not knowing how to define their children’s school when learning was done mostly online.
Last spring, district school enrollment bounced back up to 77 percent and enrollment has hovered at that rate since then, according to the publication’s most recent poll.
That percentage drop means that almost 2 million students have left a traditional public school for either a charter or private school or to be homeschooled.
Poll findings show that the three other schooling alternatives have seen bumps in enrollment numbers. In 2022, private school enrollment ticked up to 10 percent compared to 8 percent in the spring of 2020, and the number of U.S. children attending a charter school went up from 5 percent to 7 percent over that same period of time.
More children appear to be taking their course work at home, the poll found. Over the past two years, the portion of the country’s students being homeschooled bumped up from 6 to 7 percent, which represents a doubling from 2016 numbers.
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