Large Urban School Districts Losing Students and Funding!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times has a featured article today commenting on the fewer number of students in large urban school districts.  Declining birthrates, fewer immigrants and parents opting for charter schools are given as the main reasons.  Fewer students generally also means less funding.  Exacerbated by the the recession and state budget shortfalls, large school districts are cutting teachers and overall reducing programs.

“While the losses have been especially steep in long-battered cities like Cleveland and Detroit, enrollment has also fallen significantly in places suffering through the recent economic downturn, like Broward County, Fla., San Bernardino, Calif., and Tucson. Urban districts like Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio, are facing an exodus even as the school-age population has increased. Enrollment in the New York City schools, the largest district in the country, was flat from 2005 to 2010, but both Chicago and Los Angeles lost students, with declining birthrates and competition from charter schools cited as among the reasons.

The article also mentions that:

“The students left behind in some of these large districts are increasingly children with disabilities, in poverty or learning English as a second language.

Jeff Warner, a spokesman for the Columbus City Schools, said that enrollment appears to be stabilizing, but it can be difficult to compete against suburban and charter schools because of the district’s higher proportion of students requiring special education services.

In Cleveland, where enrollment fell by nearly a fifth between 2005 and 2010, the number of students requiring special education services has risen from 17 percent of the student body to 23 percent, up from just under 14 percent a decade ago, according to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

Such trends alarm those who worry about the increasing inequity in schools. “I see greater stratification and greater segregation,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.”


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