Chicago's Enrollment Crises - Part One: Exploring Root Casues

Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the third largest school district in the nation, has lost more than 100,000 students in the last twenty years. Today, just over 330,000 students attend CPS — and there is a consistent decline of as many as 10,000 public school students each year. This report, part one of a two part series, explores the root causes of enrollment decline in Chicago.

We have a citywide problem, rooted in declining births, inequitable policies, and long-term, systemic community disinvestment that continues to drive families out of Chicago. The damage has been slow and steady — and for many, imperceptible — but now that we see the severity of the consequences, including CPS’s continued enrollment decline, we know it’s real.

Solving this crisis will require all of us to commit to rectifying past harms while working to keep more families in Chicago and attract new ones — of all races, ethnicities, and demographic groups.

Without a comprehensive, multisector effort, we will continue to watch student enrollment fall.

This will ultimately lead to significant declines in federal, state, and local funding for CPS — erasing the district’s academic progress and condemning currently enrolled students to a lifetime of the effects of budget cuts and insufficient resources.

In Part Two of our report, we will share parent-led solutions to this multilayered challenge.

These will include ways that CPS can address the short-term implications of a rapidly declining student population, as well as longer-term solutions that will require the collective will of all of us to co-design and co-implement in partnership with our communities.

As we collectively confront CPS’s current and ongoing enrollment crisis, we recognize that there are some crucial lessons we have learned over the last decade that, if heeded, will enable us to avoid the same mistakes of the past, including massive school closures. Instead, parents will offer bold, transformative ideas to combat the structural challenges contributing to Chicago’s continued student enrollment decline.


April 1, 2023 at 11:32 PM

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