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New York leads U.S. in post-pandemic school enrollment decline

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  • Staff Report 

New York State has seen the largest drop in public school enrollment across the United States since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Associated Press. From the 2019-20 to 2022-23 school years, the state experienced a 6 percent decrease, amounting to about 157,000 fewer students. This decline, the most significant of any reporting state, occurred in every county, with notable decreases in New York City and several other counties.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The enrollment in public schools is at its lowest since the mid-1950s, down 10 percent from a decade ago. Ken Girardin, Director of Research at the Empire Center, highlights this trend, emphasizing the challenges it poses for schools, such as reduced funding and facility mismatches. Private schools in New York also experienced a 3 percent drop in enrollment, though data for the current school year is still pending. This decline is partly attributed to shrinking school-age populations in the state, driven by lower birth rates and high levels of migration.

In New York, reasons for older students leaving school during the pandemic include homelessness, loss of interest, mental health challenges, and academic pressures, including rigorous state exams. Nationwide, there’s a noticeable shift towards private schooling and homeschooling, with private school enrollment increasing by nearly 8 percent and homeschooling by over 25 percent since fall 2019.