Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On School Population

Everyone talks about the story of Pittsburgh's population. It's halved since 1950. It's in a continual state of decline. This year marked the lowest population drop in a while and may be signs that the city's population is turning around (as Chris Briem reminds us). Similarly, Pittsburgh City Schools just reported the lowest decline in school students in the past 9 years. This parallels the city's smallest population loss in the decade. There was an increase in Kindergarten enrollment for the first time in 4 years. Pittsburgh schools are crediting programs like the Pittsburgh Promise for this slow in decline. It's easy to try to make a parallel between the city's population and the city's school enrollment. However, you'd be far off. While the city has lost barely 7.5% of its population over the past 9 years, the school district has lost a resounding 30% of its population.

Just last year, the Post-Gazette headline was:

City school enrollment falling fast

Contrast that with this week's Post-Gazette headline:

Pittsburgh schools like enrollment trend

Too early to tell? Yes. Have there been flukes in previous years followed by drastic drops? Yes. Can I have a little optimism? Yes.

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