NYC schools want to boost enrollment. It might prove a major challenge.

NYC schools want to boost enrollment. It might prove a major challenge.

New York City schools Chancellor David Banks wants to win students back.

The nation’s largest school district has hemorrhaged students since the start of the pandemic, with enrollment down about 11% to 813,000 students in grades K-12 since then.

Earlier this week, Banks even tweeted: “Increasing enrollment and boosting opportunity for all of our students is our North Star.”

But such an effort might not be so simple, according to a new analysis by The Associated Press, Stanford University’s Big Local News project, and Stanford education professor Thomas Dee.

Across 21 states, about 230,000 of the students who left the public school rolls from 2019 to 2021 cannot be explained by rising private school or homeschool enrollment or population changes, according to the analysis. A quarter of those children — roughly 60,000 — were in New York.

These students could have fallen off school rosters for various reasons, Dee noted, such as being homeschooled without registering with the state or skipping kindergarten. Other students might have disengaged during remote learning or amid mental health struggles.

But there could be other factors that complicate the chancellor’s goals of rebuilding enrollment. Besides a declining birth rate, immigration to New York City has slowed, and families are leaving New York for places like New Jersey and Florida — often in search of cheaper housing. Together, demographic change could account for at least 40% of New York state’s public school enrollment decline, according to the analysis.

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