#JUSTWALKAWAY THREATENS TO SNOWBALL:  Where the Kids Went: Nonpublic Schooling and Demographic Change during the Pandemic Exodus from Public Schools


  • Over the first two school years under the pandemic, K–12 enrollment in public schools fell by more than 1.2 million students, with prominent losses among students in early elementary grades and kindergarten.
  • In the 2021–22 school year, private school enrollment was 4 percent higher while homeschool enrollment was 30 percent higher.
  • The growth in private school enrollment was particularly large in kindergarten and early elementary grades.
  • DC and the 21 states that had available data showed increased homeschool enrollment during the pandemic. The smallest increase occurred in North Carolina, where homeschool enrollment grew by 8 percent. Other states saw particularly large increases, including Florida (43 percent), New York (65 percent), and Pennsylvania (53 percent).
  • During the pandemic, the school-age population in the US fell by more than 250,000; the location of the school-age population shifts and the pattern of states gaining and losing children matched the changes in the total population.
  • More than a third of the loss in public school enrollment cannot be explained by corresponding gains in private school and homeschool enrollment and by demographic change. For example, between the 2019–20 and the 2021–22 school years, K–12 enrollment in California’s public schools fell by roughly 271,000. Though some of this loss can be attributed to the corresponding decline in the state’s school-age population and growth in private and homeschool enrollment, sources fail to explain more than half (about 150,000 students) the state’s public school enrollment losses.