Once upon a time, public health officials closed U.S. public schools. Tens of thousands of kids left class and never returned.
“Bring back the lost children of Los Angeles Unified,” wailed the Los Angeles Times editorial board on August 8, 2022.
“Some 10,000 to 20,000 Los Angeles kids are missing,” the Times editorial board lamented. “Not in the picture-on-a-milk carton sense, but vanished from Los Angeles Unified School District enrollment rosters and unaccounted for as schools plan the start of classes on Aug. 15.”
“It’s hard to determine exactly where they are,” concluded the editorial board.
From the vague number- between 10,000 and 20,000 is a fairly large ballpark when you’re talking about school-age children enrolled or not enrolled in public school- to the reasons officials have encountered thus far in their limited study of the phenomenon, the problem is a vast iceberg known only by the barest glimpse of it.
The problem is hardly confined to the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Public school districts from Boston to Chicago to New York City are having precisely the same problem. Enrollment, which had been steadily falling for years in some cases, has suddenly dropped- sharply.
More and more parents, due to the extended nature of many public school closures, have opted for home schooling or private schools. Some parents have left the school districts for other reasons. In some areas, San Francisco in particular where three school board members were recalled, parents have been clearly expressing their displeasure at the failures of remote learning.
“Pay attention to parents’s dissatisfaction with California schools,” implored the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board on June 19, 2022. “COVID Exposed How Public Schools Are Failing Black Kids,” warned Adam Coleman for Newsweek on February 16, 2022. “Coronavirus school closures hurt low income, minority kids most,” reported Just the News on February 5, 2022, citing a study from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.
This is a major problem for U.S. public school districts and the entire system. A number of other factors are already pushing parents towards alternative education.