Exodus from Columbus Schools

Written by Patricia Hawke for www.schoolsk-12.com

Enrollment Figures in Columbus Schools are Falling
In the glory days back in the 50s and 60s, Columbus schools could expect to find at least 3000 students lined up for admissions.  These days, however you are more likely to find that number armed with transcripts waiting for a transfer into charter or private Columbus schools.  This downward enrollment trend is nowhere close to the mass exodus that took place from Columbus schools in the years following desegregation, but the numbers are high enough to warrant concern.  Up until a couple of decades after World War II, student rosters at Columbus schools were overflowing so much so that many new schools had to be built to accommodate the demand.  By the 1970s, however enrollments had dropped drastically, and they have been declining since.  Enrollment today at Columbus schools stand at a grand total of 55,000, a ghost of what it once was. 
 
Causes Behind the Decline in Enrollment Figures at Columbus Schools
While desegregation was taking place in the rest of the country, Columbus schools were yet to follow suit.  In 1973, a student named Gary Penick filed a lawsuit for the integration of Columbus schools, and while the case would wait many years in court before settlement, many parents faced with uncertainty moved their children away from the district.  With this exodus began the enrollment decline.  The district lost students and with them much needed funding.  With the classification of many of Columbus schools as “poor,” the numbers of students who opted to leave increased. 
 
Decreased Funding Leads to Poor Performances in Columbus Schools
Columbus schools authorities say this paucity of funds has led to a consistently lowered performance on standardized tests that are the basis of the No Child Left Behind program.  With many Columbus public schools failing to meet the cut, they face the downgrading to “failing school” status.  Parents, who are disturbed at this decline in standards, choose to use vouchers to move their children away to privately operated schools.  So, the problem of exodus from schools is as much to do with quality as quantity as every year the best and brightest leave to follow their life aspirations at other better schools. 
 
Effects of Decreased Enrollment in Columbus Schools
As more and more students leave Columbus schools, educational authorities are faced with the specter of near empty school buildings.  Closure of some existing schools seems to be the only viable option in this predicament and quite a few Columbus schools have already been forced to close down.  While schools have made arrangements to transfer students to other schools, many parents of students who are left behind are angered that their children are left to pay the price in substandard schools. 

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