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Public School Enrollment Declines
The public education system has systemic weaknesses

Oregon public schools are seeing declines in enrollment.

Oregon public schools have enrolled 29 fewer students for 2020-21 than they did a decade ago for 2011-12 -- that after 10 years of year-over-year increases to enrollment. The decline in enrollment isn't as bad as the chart makes it look, as it's only showing the tip of the iceberg, but a decline of 3.9% is not sustainable. In raw numbers, it's a loss of 22,000 students from a pool of half a million.

On the other hand, the 2020-21 numbers represent just the first year of COVID-19 and the school policies that were accepted by many in the beginning. What does the next set of numbers look like?

As teachers' unions flex their muscle and make demands of the system, parents are ultimately downstream from those demands. It's not lost on a parent that the same teacher who demands full pay, yet no in-person classroom duty might not be making a great statement when they bump into the unhappy parent at Costco.

One might look at the graph and simply conclude that the cause is nearly entirely COVID-19 and that, once the outbreak and society get repaired and back to normal, the graph will snap back, or at least make a partial recovery. This might not be true. The public education system has systemic weaknesses, most significantly its inability to educate and graduate students. Time spent on critical race theory, what some consider inappropriate sex education, as well as other speculative curricula may have led to a leveling off of enrollment which began about 2015.

The consequence of declining enrollment? Once a critical mass is reached -- one can imagine that it's less than 50% -- a group of people, resentful of having to pay for a public school system that no longer delivers results, will find a way to no longer pay -- perhaps through a voucher law. While this obviously leaves a social mark, it also leaves a political mark. It has the effect of shutting down two of the largest public employee unions in the state, the Oregon Education Association which represents teachers and the Oregon School Employees Association which represents all the classified employees.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-14 11:47:39Last Update: 2021-05-13 12:14:14

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