California exodus: Public school enrollment drops by 40,000 as families flee state

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California exodus: Public school enrollment drops by 40,000 as families flee state

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Public school enrollment in California declined by nearly 40,000 students during the 2022-2023 school year as the state continues to grapple with the effects of net-loss migration as residents move to other states.

The California Department of Education released its enrollment report Tuesday that showed enrollment in the Golden State’s public schools declined by 0.67% this year, corresponding to 39,696 fewer students than in the 2021-2022 school year.

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The latest decline is less steep than last year, when statewide enrollment declined by nearly 2% and schools lost 110,283 students. The state lost 160,478 students in its public schools in the pandemic-affected 2020-2021 school year.

“It has been a state priority to work to ensure that families are engaged in public schools and that schools meet family needs,” the California Department of Education said in a press release. “Over the last four years, Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Legislature, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond have worked together to secure $23.8 billion in programs and initiatives to engage families and students in public schools, address and dismantle barriers to student success, and jumpstart learning recovery.”

The decline in public school enrollment comes as California continues to experience a mass exodus of inhabitants to other states. Between April 2020 and July 2022, the state’s population declined by over 500,000.

From July 2021 to July 2022, the state lost 211,000 people, including 113,000 from Los Angeles County alone.

Along with the population decline, the state is grappling with the lingering effects of the pandemic school closures that saw the state lose track of 150,000 students.

The enormous decline in student enrollment over the past three years is not properly accounted for by factoring increases in private school enrollment and homeschooling, the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this year.

“I know the state frame is: Enrollment has stabilized. But at some level, that’s missing the point, which is that these kids aren’t coming back,” Thomas Dee, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, said about the latest enrollment data. “We haven’t seen, and are unlikely to see anytime in the near future, a bounce back from the substantial loss in public school enrollment that occurred over the pandemic.”

But despite losing residents at an alarming clip, California’s public school enrollment woes are part of a national decline in enrollment. A February report from Stanford’s Dee for the Urban Institute said public school enrollment declined nationwide by 1.2 million students, a fact that could only partly be explained by corresponding increases in private school enrollment and homeschooling.

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The report also noted that in the past three years, the nation’s school-aged population declined by 250,000. The nation’s birthrate has continued to decline in recent years and has fallen below replacement for over a decade.

In 2021, California’s birthrate was 10.7 births per 1,000 people, a far cry from 1991, when it was 20 births per 1,000. The national birth rate per 1,000 was 11 in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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