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Chicago Public Schools have been declining in enrollment for over a decade. They are now serving 322,106 children, making it the nation’s fourth largest district after Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which serves 324,961 students. Miami-Dade has taken Chicago’s #3 national enrollment spot.


  • Chicago is serving roughly 9,000 fewer than last year
    • more than 80,000 fewer students than a decade ago
    • more than 115,000 fewer than were enrolled 20 years ago  
  • Decline attributed to
    • declining birth rates
    • possible need for improved practices, programming, and services to students. 

National enrollment ranking

  1. New York City Public Schools – more than 950,000 students
  2. Los Angeles Unified School District – more than 430,000
  3. Miami-Dade County Public Schools – 324,961
  4. Chicago Public Schools – 322,106
  5. Clark County in Nevada – over 305,000

Pandemic impact

  • Went to schools outside the city
  • Transferred to private schools
  • Students switching to homeschooling – up during the pandemic, back down this year. 
  • Uptick in the number of students considered dropouts
  • Simply did not show up at school. 


  • Chicago schools still serve mostly Latino and Black students.
  • Percentage of white and Asian American students have increased.
  • All groups are seeing declines. 
  • Predominantly Latino neighborhoods saw steeper losses.

Moving forward

  • Pandemic recovery money have helped.
  • Parents urged Chicago Public Schools to rethink its school-based funding model.
  • Larger coalition of community groups working to do away with the school-based budgeting model that the group because they maintain it destabilizes communities.
  • Need to inform parents and the community to increase understanding of benefits and impact.


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