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NYC public school enrollments decline as parents turn to homeschooling

More New York City parents choosing to homeschool children
More New York City parents choosing to homeschool children 02:55

NEW YORK -- As we approach the start of the school year, New York City data shows that public school enrollment has been declining for more than five years. 

This comes as parents in increasing numbers are considering alternatives to their children's education. 

When her children's classes went remote at the start of the pandemic, Brooklyn parent Julie Kvyatkovsky had a chance to sit in on their typical school day. 

"I realized that if this is how they're learning, I can do a little bit better. I can try to do a little bit better," she told CBS2's Hannah Kliger. 

So last school year, she made the decision to homeschool her 9-year-old twin daughters, Tea and Jenna. She sectioned off a part of her kitchen and called her small academy "Home Sweet Homeschool." On the first day of class, she became their teacher, principal and lunch lady.

"Homeschooling is not for everyone," Kvyatkovsky said. "But for those who thrive in this situation, why not see your kids succeed?"

Her daughters said they liked the change. 

"Here I don't get timed, so I can do math for one hour, two hours, three hours, how much time I want," said incoming fourth grader Tea Kvyatkovsky. 

"It has been really different," added her twin, Jenna. "It has just been me and Tea, but also at the same time I get to know Tea more."

Kvyatkovsky is among thousands of New York City parents who decided to homeschool during the pandemic. City data shows that traditional school enrollment rates dropped to 955,000, the lowest point in at least 15 years.

"Our system has shrunk by 120,000 students over the past five years," city Schools Chancellor David Banks said in June.

According to the New York City Independent Budget Office, enrollment fell in every school district last academic year.

District 18 in Brooklyn, for example, saw the biggest percent change, from 13,788 enrolled in 2019 before the pandemic, to 12,450 during the 2020-21 school year. Then it dropped to 11,269 in the second pandemic school year, 2021-22.

"We don't think of this as a blip. We think it's a trend. A cultural revolution has happened because of what parents saw through the remote schooling," said John Edelson, founder of Time4Learning, the curriculum Julie Kvyatkovsky has chosen for her kids.

Edelson says his organization's own internal data shows a drastic increase in households choosing to homeschool. The rate of parents in Brooklyn who signed up with their program doubled from 2019 to 2021.

"Time4Learning has seen the homeschooling phenomenon as a national trend," he said. "The urban centers like Brooklyn are really big, but so are the suburban and the rural centers."

The Department of Education is trying to respond to this massive loss of enrollments, which can also have a massive effect on budget.

"Whenever a student doesn't enroll in our public schools, we lose money. And our schools are feeling that impact," Banks said about the issue. 

For many parents, the city's public schools just aren't passing the test. 

A spokesperson said the DOE is working on addressing the issue. A statement the department provided read, in part, "Already this Administration has taken on reimagining literacy instruction with a focus on dyslexia, expanded Gifted & Talented programs, launched an AAPI curriculum, and for the first time ever, began including parents in the hiring of superintendents."

Have a story idea or tip in Brooklyn? Email Hannah by CLICKING HERE.

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