Parents who have left NYC public schools recently speak out on what the leading cause was to make them leave the system behind.
Public school enrollment is on the decline. Over the last two years, the nation’s public education system has hemorrhaged roughly two million students. Major cities are feeling the brunt of these losses. Now, NYC public school parents have spoken out about what drove them away.
Chalkbeat New York went directly to the source, reaching out to parents of prior NYC public school students who have recently left for alternative options. The questions were simple. They asked families what the reason was for their departure, along with what it might take to bring them back. Altogether, the Big Apple has lost nearly 10% of its students since the beginning of the pandemic. Also, they are expected to lose another 30,000 more at the start of school this fall.
Transportation appeared to have a vital role in deterring families from NYC public schools. Many parents who responded noted that with public schools, they were forced to send their children on public transportation, including the city’s extensive subway system, to get to the school they attended. A recent uptick in attacks on the subway has made New Yorkers feel less safe, so it’s no wonder why many parents would seek alternatives that may not require their children to commute to school on public transportation like trains and subways.
Violence not only on the way to school but also on campuses also was cited by parents as a reason to leave the NYC public school system behind. District measures set by restorative justice have made it so that schools are less prone to hand out harsh discipline such as suspension. However, teachers sounded the alarm against this during the last school year, saying that it is causing more violence as students have fewer consequences.
One parent noted that the disparity between prestigious schools and “massively dangerous” ones is immense. NYC public school lottery system has been ridiculed by parents for quite some time. It is known to be extremely difficult for parents to get their families into good neighborhood high schools, which further forces families to leave the system.
The vast differences in school performance and achievement also mean that many parents feel forced to have to hire tutors in order to offer their children a proper education. One parent said that even in top-rated NYC public schools, the notion is that curriculums are lacking substance. Because of this, parents often hire tutors to help their children succeed in these prestigious schools. Fed up with having to “do the teachers job” families leave because they are spending their own money to keep up with academics anyways.
Overall, safety, curriculums, and great disparity in the qualities of schools appeared to be the biggest reasons why parents are fleeing NYC public schools. With mayoral control over the nation’s largest school district, Mayor Eric Adams has vowed to turn around the failing school system. But with poor approval ratings, especially with parents, few are hopeful that Adams will make a difference. Even as parents continue to voice their concerns over public schools and what drove them away, more will likely continue to leave the system, hopeful for better results in public or homeschool options.