Schools that shut down during COVID struggle to retain students | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

More than 1 in 40 students left public school in the fall 2020 semester, a new survey shows. Districts that continued remote learning through the spring 2021 semester didn’t rebound in fall 2021.

Since the start of the pandemic, a whopping 1,268,000 students have made their exit from districts nationwide, according to the American Enterprise Institute and the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College.

The results shouldn’t be shocking. Shutdowns have had a horrible impact on student mental health and academic achievement. Paired with controversies over critical race theory and sexual politics in the classroom, conditions are ripe for a mass exodus.

Districts that did see enrollment recovery over the past year are split decisively along party lines. According to the survey, “In 2021–22, most districts that voted for Trump rebounded, while enrollment continued to fall in those that voted for Biden.”

Democrat-run states dominate the list for highest enrollment losses, with New York, Oregon, Massachusetts, California, and Hawaii taking the top five spots. Many of these states took the longest to reopen and had the highest mask usage, two major issues correlating with enrollment declines. New York City’s pre-K students are currently required to wear masks indoors, despite the district lifting the mandate for K-12 students in March.

The political divide in K-12 enrollment numbers mirrors the trend in higher education, where college enrollment numbers across the board have declined by 1.3 million since the spring 2020 semester, while conservative religious colleges are experiencing record enrollment.

Schools such as Yale and UCLA adopted restrictive policies and continually postponed in-person classes. Universities nationwide tracked student movements in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID. At Yale, students were restricted from eating at local restaurants. That’s on top of the already biased academic environment dominated by leftist professors and administrators with little concern for encouraging viewpoint diversity.

But conservatives aren’t alone in recognizing the need for change in education. A February RealClear Opinion Research poll found that 68% of Democrats support school choice, along with 82% of Republicans and 67% of independents. Parents across party lines want a good education for their children, even if they vote for politicians whose policies make that more difficult to obtain.

“As the battle over educational freedom continues, party affiliation is secondary to ensuring all families are empowered to choose the best educational setting for their children,” Tommy Schultz, CEO of the American Federation for Children, said about the survey results.

Education choice should be an easy bipartisan issue. Yet Democratic politicians continue to propose unpopular policies and ignore the clear desires of voters. Some voters seem not to make the connection that their party’s platform rejects policies they believe would benefit their children.

Will they make the connection? Let’s hope so. Over 1 million students leaving the system should be a wake-up call to voters and politicians alike.
Katelynn Richardson is a Summer 2022 Washington Examiner fellow.

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