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Michael R. Bloomberg

A Wake-Up Call for Public Education

Falling enrollment in America’s schools is a sign of a system in crisis.

You can’t lose the students and keep the teachers.

You can’t lose the students and keep the teachers.

Photographer: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

A recent national analysis contained a deeply disturbing finding that has generated little public discussion when it should be causing an outcry: Nearly 1.3 million students have left public schools since the pandemic began. Most states have seen enrollment declines for two straight years. In New York City, K-12 enrollment has dropped by an astounding 9%.

Given that state education funding formulas rely on student population numbers, a large reduction in students will lead to a corresponding reduction in school budgets. That’s the law of supply and demand. Otherwise, at this rate, the public will soon be paying teachers to lead half-empty classrooms.