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NYC Public Schools See Sharpest Decline in Kindergarten Enrollment as Parents Flee City

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By: Jared Evan

Enrollment in kindergarten classes across New York City’s public schools is experiencing a significant decline, raising concerns about the future impact on the education system, particularly in the most affected districts.

Public School advocates claim that this trend could have lasting consequences on the quality of education and opportunities for students.

The city’s Department of Education data, acquired by The NY Post, reveals a staggering 17% drop in kindergarten enrollment citywide for the last school year compared to the figures from 2016-17. The numbers have plummeted from 71,468 to 59,564 students as of June. Among the hardest-hit districts, District 9 in The Bronx suffered a 29% decline, resulting in 690 fewer kindergartners registering. This decline was mirrored in three other Bronx districts, where enrollment dropped by 25% or more.

Manhattan’s District 5, encompassing Central Harlem and parts of East and West Harlem, also experienced a decline of nearly a quarter in kindergarten enrollment. Frustrated by perceived shortcomings in traditional public schools, many students and parents are turning to publicly funded charter schools for alternative options. In this regard, Donald Niang, a Harlem father, explained that charter schools offer a broader range of opportunities, thereby appealing to parents who seek a more enriching educational experience for their children. Marsha Taylor, a Harlem mother, echoed this sentiment, expressing her satisfaction with her decision to switch her children from local DOE schools to Global Community Charter School, she explained to the NY Post.

While charter schools have seen a notable increase in enrollment, with over 20,000 more students joining their ranks, traditional public-school enrollment for grades K-12 has declined by 14% over the past five years, totaling nearly 150,000 students.

The most recent data from June indicates a total enrollment of 859,124 students from grades 3K to 12th grade. Moreover, the figures reveal that 37,600 students transferred out of New York City, with over 18,000 opting for charter schools.

Analyses of test results underscore the disparity in performance between charter and traditional public-school students. Charter students consistently outperform their public-school counterparts, with the former excelling in English and math standardized tests in grades 3-8. Alina Adams, author of “Getting into NYC Kindergarten,” sheds light on the concerns voiced by parents regarding the adequacy of general-ed public schools in meeting their children’s needs. She emphasizes that the low standards prevalent in New York contribute to parents seeking alternative options for a higher quality of education.

Declining birth rates play a role in the declining enrollment figures, but experts attribute the trend primarily to widespread apprehensions about the slipping standards in public education. Additionally, the city’s relatively late birthday cutoff for kindergarten entry, requiring some children to start at age 4, is criticized for potentially imposing undue pressure on young students and leading to long-term consequences for their academic journey.

The alarming decline in kindergarten enrollment underscores the urgent need for educational reform and improvement to retain parents’ trust in the public education system. Without addressing these concerns and taking steps to enhance the quality of education, the hardest-hit districts could experience lasting repercussions.

“What is fascinating is how the enrollment is dropping in black and Hispanic areas, there is a conservative streak among people of color, it is clear they do not blindly obey Democrats,” a retired public school teacher told TJV News.

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