California’s ongoing K-12 student exodus


On many fronts, it will take years before the full toll of the coronavirus pandemic and the responses to it is understood.

The impact on education and the children who experienced learning loss due will certainly be something to keep an eye on.

Thomas Peele recently reported for Edsource on the findings of Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho about the extent of public school enrollment declines over the last two years.

“California’s K-12 enrollment decline of more than 270,000 students since the pandemic began is largely attributable to people leaving the state, not enrolling children in transitional kindergarten or kindergarten, or deciding to home-school their children but failing to file the paperwork to account for them,” Peele reported.

For LAUSD, the biggest school district in the state and one of the biggest in the country, this decline merely hastened an ongoing decline in enrollment.

“The district has 58% of the student population it had at its peak in the early 2000s, now at 430,000 students,” Peele notes.

The disruption to the education of students across the state cannot be understated, despite United Teachers Los Angeles President Cecily Myart-Cruz’s absurd claim that learning loss doesn’t exist.

Students missed out on the wide range of learning opportunities school allow, including socialization, and had to endure often subpar remote learning arrangements.

California’s prolonged closure of in-person education didn’t help things. Nor did it help that California’s K-12 system is already among the worst performing in the nation. Since even before the pandemic, most students in California’s K-12 system couldn’t read and do math at grade level.

Meanwhile, increasing portions of education budgets will be going not to educating students but to cover pension debt for public school employees.  The ongoing trend of increased payments for pension debt and other obligations versus declining enrollment makes for a challenging fiscal situation and a challenging situation to ensure the K-12 system properly serves the needs of students.

No wonder people are leaving the system.

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