Chicago’s public school system has seen another enrollment drop with 10,000 fewer students this academic year since last year for a total of approximately 330,000 students.
The enrollment decline, which has been happening each year for the past decade, comes as other big city districts including New York and Los Angeles have seen enrollment declines this year as well. Chicago Public Schools managed to keep its ranking as the nation’s third-largest school district, but Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida reports coming close to Chicago.
The enrollment drop this academic year is due to students moving elsewhere, going to private schools or homeschooling, according to recent district data. Roughly 3,400 students are unaccounted for, meaning they haven’t shown up in city schools and the district doesn’t have information about them.
Racial demographics have largely remained the same since last year. About 47% of the district’s students are Hispanic, approximately 36% are Black, about 11% are white and roughly 4% are Asian.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the drop a “minor miracle,” saying she was surprised enrollment didn’t decline even more considering the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had to quickly transition to remote learning. We know that didn’t work for a lot of families. There’s been a lot of challenges and struggles that have been revealed throughout the course of this pandemic that hit our most vulnerable residents the hardest, many of whom” have children attending CPS, Lightfoot said.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Teachers Union blamed underfunded schools, particularly in largely Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, as a major driver.
The district’s new CEO Pedro Martinez said the district plans to take a deeper look at the pandemic’s impact on enrollment.