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Losing Students in Ohio

As we prepare for the coming school year, it is a good time to take a look at changes in Ohio’s schools over the past couple of years, as the COVID-19 pandemic sparked an exodus from public schools that has caught the attention of policy makers.

A national study by the American Enterprise Institute and the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College shows Ohio’s public school enrollment dropped nearly 3% since the start of the pandemic, according to Axios Columbus.

Urban school districts seem to have been harder hit — for example, Columbus City Schools saw a drop of 6.8% — but the trend is worrisome everywhere. AEI’s study suggests families were frustrated with online learning and pandemic-related instability and opted for homeschooling, charter schools or private schools.

Given that school funding is directly tied to enrollment, that’s a problem that will have ripple effects for years.

“This is pandemic fallout on a huge scale,” Nat Malkus, AEI’s deputy director of education policy, told Axios. “Changing schools is a fundamental, life-altering decision for families, and these enrollment shifts represent millions of hard decisions.”

Difficult decisions, perhaps, but those parents who decided to pull their children from public schools eventually believed it was best for their kids.

School districts already hanging on by the threads of the still-unconstitutional state funding formula cannot afford losing more students.

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