As Enrollment Declines, Many Chicago Schools Have Few Students

As families leave Chicago Public schools for alternatives, many campuses house few students inside of them.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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Chicago public schools

More than half of the Chicago public schools have lost so many students that they do not meet the state’s enrollment threshold to be effectively utilized. More and more families are walking away from the district in favor of more effective education alternatives. Despite this, the Chicago Teachers Union refuses to make any changes and opposes closing even empty locations

One-third of these traditional, non-charter schools are less than half full. The 20 lowest enrolled schools have such enrollment drops that many community members are questioning why they even remain open. Manley High School is built to house 1,296 students but only had 64 students enrolled during the 2021-2022 school year. By keeping failing locations open, Chicago Public Schools are ignoring this serious issue and wasting taxpayer dollars.

As if that weren’t bad enough, these schools’ failure rates are through the roof. Student reading and math proficiency are so low that it’s a wonder they haven’t all lost accreditation yet. At Raby High School and Douglass High School, none of the students are reading at state levels. Douglass High School also has a 0% math proficiency rate, as does Uplift High School, Hirsch High School, and Fenger High School. 

This is not a result of the pandemic. Although the Chicago Teachers Union has lobbied to keep kids isolated and masked many times, these failing Chicago Public School numbers were produced in 2019. Parents know that their children cannot possibly succeed in failing schools. Many families have fled the system, but that hasn’t stopped the city from continuing to ignore the problem. 

Much like Chicago’s ongoing gun violence epidemic, the Chicago Public Schools are facing an education crisis. Instead of working with families and community members to solve the issues plaguing the system, the Chicago Teachers Union is focused on politics and battling parents who oppose their policies. This powerful organization hosts a strictly progressive agenda that appears to be focused on social justice. 

Instead of closing schools and condensing classes to bring students together, the Chicago Teachers Union not only opposed closing nearly empty schools, they actually protested against having a school with no enrolled students shut down. It is uncertain what the point of keeping empty schools open is. What is known is that Chicago public schools are losing support and that is linked to the teachers’ unions’ political crusade and failure to acknowledge the lack of student success rates. 

Plenty of families are helping their students learn on their own. Without teaching degrees and federal oversight, mothers and fathers are leading their children to learn more information than they did in schools forced to adhere to the Department of Education’s changing standards. Charter schools, private schools, and microschools are also taking up the slack. Instead of facing overworked teachers and increased school violence, students are enjoying their education in smaller settings and flourishing without the Chicago public school system controlling their curriculum.

The Chicago public school system has lost so many students and failed to properly teach most of those who are still enrolled. This is a sad fact that has led more and more families to seek other education options. Until the teachers union, school officials, and federal education officials acknowledge their own role in these shortcomings changes are not expected to be made and that spells trouble for the district’s future.