New York City hides decline in K-12 listings – Reason.com

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What if New York’s Kindergarten to Grade 12 enrollment for government-run schools were so low the city is deliberately removing them to avoid criticism of how it handled school policies during COVID- 19?

That’s the direct question posed this week not only by libertarian school choice advocates or obnoxious local tabloids, but by Democratic Party heavyweights at the head of the city council education committee and more. large local teachers’ union.

“Respectfully,” City Council Education Chief Mark Treyger asked Department of Education (DOE) Vice Chancellor Donald Conyers on Wednesday, “how many students do we currently have in our system? public school? “

It seems like such a simple question. But: “And I will tell you respectfully,” Conyers replied, “that I don’t have that number to give you at the moment.”

The delivery time of the DOE number was delayed almost as much as Top Gun: Maverick. On September 14, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the attendance rate on the first day of school the night before was 82.4% scientifically sounding – “clearly better than some people feared or thought, but not as high as the last time we had a first day of school before the pandemic, when it was around 90 percent. In cross-examination, however, de Blasio admitted that he was unable to produce the numerator or denominator for this particular calculation. “The city’s Department of Education is hiding important information about school enrollment and attendance,” New York said Daily News concluded in an editorial.

New York Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter promised reporters at the press conference that “As soon as we reach the point where we have full ownership in our system, we will share these numbers.” More than three weeks later, that point was postponed to October 31, and only then because that’s the deadline for reporting the listing to the state.

“They know how many children did not show up,” said United Federation of Teachers (UFT) president Michael Mulgrew at Wednesday’s city council meeting. “They’re hiding it… We’re playing this game of, ‘I’m not going to tell you what’s wrong because politically it might not work for us.'”

The local school enrollment policy is as complicated as it is unnecessary for non-New Yorkers in Grok, although the reality of families who continue to flee government-run schools seems likely to challenge policymakers. and infuriating taxpayers coast to coast as the 2021-2022 data arrives. In the Big Apple, teacher unions are upset about having to comply with a workplace vaccination mandate that went into effect this week, and with de Blasio’s insistence that distance learning this school year is not a start. From the UFT’s narrow perspective, bad numbers would justify teachers’ claims that skeptical families need a remote option and a more robust testing regime for unvaccinated students.

But the numbers also stink in places where the rules were written by unions. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest, saw enrollment drop 6% at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, after dropping 4% the year before. LAUSD, one of the most closed large-city systems in the country in 2020-2021 despite southern California’s temperate climate, has the most aggressive COVID-19 testing regime in the country (every student and staff member , every week, regardless of vaccination status), plus compulsory vaccinations for teachers and students aged 12 and over.

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) won concession after concession from the local Democratic political establishment and are now considering a 10% drop in customer base for a free product over two years. This will put downward pressure on the number of unionized teacher jobs available.

As Reason Foundation director of education reform Aaron Garth Smith noted last week in Internal sources, “States primarily fund schools based on the number of students enrolled. Thus, after decades of red tape, public schools may face budget cuts or growing deficits if they fail to regain parental trust. If the decline in LAUSD enrollment lasts, Smith wrote, “the district would expect to receive about $ 250 million less in state funding than it would otherwise receive.”

The importance of per-student funding is so great that Detroit Public Schools, which bleed out enrollment, this week offered students free Pistons tickets if they showed up to every class on “count day.” An elementary school in my Brooklyn district lost eight teachers after seeing its two-year enrollment drop by a third.

Kindergarten to Grade 12 enrollment in New York City fell by at least 4% in 2020-21, even as charter schools grew by more than 7%. The nationwide drop in enrollment, apparent in all 50 states, was 3%. In the meantime, home education has doubled.

The question plaguing the public educational institution is whether these numbers are a pandemic aberration or an inflection point. Millions of parents, myself included, have come face to face over the past 19 months with the way public schools are run, and disliked what they found. There are recall efforts against school board members across the country, including in San Francisco. The controversial public school meetings became the analog of 2021 at the congressional town halls of the summer of 2009 with angry voters, until media panic and heightened awareness by law enforcement.

But beyond the long-term trajectory of public education and its funding / policy, there is the urgent short-term question of where these missing students are. You can’t track education progress or assess outreach efforts to those who have been stuck in distance learning if you don’t have an attendance reference number.

“It should be basic,” said Treyger, who introduced legislation requiring the DOE to cough up registration data. “This shouldn’t be controversial. The fact that we don’t share the number of children enrolled in our school system right now is unacceptable to me. And, quite frankly, further erodes trust with the public… and insulting to that. committee and the public – that they will not share attendance data and information. “


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