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CPS Enrollment Declines Aren’t Limited To Black Students

African-American students have been leaving Chicago schools in massive numbers. But new data analyzed by Alden Loury, director of research and evaluation at the Metropolitan Planning Council, shows that Latino enrollment is declining as well.

This is the fourth school year in which Latino enrollment in Chicago Public Schools has dropped. And “each year the loss has increased,” Lowry said. “Steady Latino growth had really been the thing that helped offset the continuous loss of black students.”

The school district reports 173,790 Hispanic students in schools this year. That’s down from 177,492 last school year. Latinos are Chicago Public Schools’ biggest student group.

The declines come against a backdrop of major enrollment drops for the school district as a whole. CPS has lost 20,000 students over the past two years. The last time the district experienced such significant enrollment shifts was during white flight in the 1970s.

Losing students carries big consequences.

“Enrollment for a school district  that’s essentially the lifeblood of their financial being,” Lowry said. Lower numbers can lead to school closings, budget cuts and lost jobs.  

Lowry said his organization looked at whether Latinos were enrolling in private schools in greater numbers, but that did not explain Chicago Public School enrolment declines, he said

The number of Latino students enrolled in schools the rest of Illinois has been on the rise.

Fueled largely by declines in the African American and Latino populations, white students now make up 10.3 percent of Chicago Public Schools’ student population it’s the first time in nearly two decades that the percentage of white students in the district has hit double digits.

Linda Lutton writes about education for WBEZ. Follow her @WBEZeducation.

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