Brooklyn elementary loses one-third of its student population and eight teachers, as the first 2021–22 enrollment numbers straggle in.
This fall may be the biggest moment of truth for public education since the 1970s.
After seeing enrollment in government-run K-12 schools decline by 3 percent in COVID-marred 2020–21 (including 13 percent for kindergarten and pre-K), all while homeschooling tripled, the $122 billion question facing this new school year is whether that defection is an aberration or inflection point. Given the amount of time that families have now had to plan around school-opening policies that have been among the most cautious in the developed world, would they choose their neighborhood school, or seek alternative solutions with more predictable schedules?
An early bellwether came clanging in last week, suggesting that the mass opting-out will be no mere blip. “Sadly, since the onset of the pandemic, our school roster has declined by 120 students who have left our school,” Principal Elizabeth Garraway of Brooklyn’s P.S. 118 Maurice Sendak elementary school emailed to parents in affluent Park Slope. “Due to the drastic decline in our numbers, our budget to pay teacher salaries was drastically reduced.”