CHICAGO (AP) – Chicago’s public school system has seen a further decline in enrollment with 10,000 fewer students this school year than last year for a total of around 330,000 students.
The drop in enrollment, which has occurred every year for the past decade, comes as other major city districts, including New York and Los Angeles, have also experienced a drop in enrollment this year. Chicago’s public schools have managed to maintain their ranking as the third-largest school district in the country, but public schools in Miami-Dade County, Florida are reporting that they are getting closer to Chicago.
The drop in enrollment this school year is due to students moving elsewhere, attending private schools or home schooling, recent data from the district show. About 3,400 students are missing, which means they did not show up to schools in the city and the district has no information about them.
Racial demographics have largely remained the same since last year. About 47% of students in the district are Hispanic, about 36% are black, about 11% are white, and about 4% are Asian.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the drop a “minor miracle,” saying she was surprised enrollments did not decline even more given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had to move quickly to distance learning. We know it hasn’t worked for a lot of families. There have been many challenges and struggles that have come to light during this pandemic that have hit our most vulnerable residents the most, many of whom “have children attending CPS,” said Lightfoot.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Teachers Union blamed underfunded schools, especially in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods, as a major driver.
New district CEO Pedro Martinez said the district plans to take a closer look at the impact of the pandemic on enrollment.
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