- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 28, 2003

A sharp increase in student enrollment over the past decade has increased pressure for higher government spending for education, and negative consequences such as school overcrowding and teacher shortages, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report issued yesterday.

The number of students in all schools from kindergarten through university increased about a fifth in the 1990s, resulting in “the consequent stresses on school systems” throughout the country, the report says.

State and federal government spending for all schooling topped $483 billion in 2000 and increased more than $21 billion a year just for kindergarten through 12th grade, according to the Education Department.

The Census Bureau report, “School Enrollment 2000,” says substantial growth in the number of children ages 5 to 17 during the 1990s added 8 million students to elementary and high school classrooms, “reaching a record peak of 50 million students by April 2000.”

The report is one of a series the bureau has produced since the 2000 Census to help Congress and government decision-makers in their allocation of federal funds and grants, which for many school programs are pegged to student enrollment and other statutory formulas, a bureau spokeswoman said.

Student enrollment changes found through the decennial census reflect continuing population shifts and childbirths throughout the country since the 1990 census.

With college and university enrollments, there were 76.6 million students in all schools as this decade commenced, or 28.4 percent of the full population.

Private schools saw a huge increase in popularity. “The number of students in these schools soared, from 4.2 million to 5.2 million, a 24 percent increase,” the report says.

In the District, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, 15 percent or more of all students attended private schools.

“The difference in the proportions of boys and girls enrolled in private school was minimal, whereas differences were more noticeable by race and Hispanic origin,” the report says.

Virginia and Maryland outpaced the national 18 percent school-enrollment increase, based on statistics culled from the 2000 census and analyzed in the new report.

Virginia added 322,902 students, a 21 percent increase, reaching a total of 1,868,101 by April 2000. Maryland added 260,989 to reach total enrollment of 1,475,484, a 21.5 percent increase.

The District had a 4 percent enrollment increase, adding 6,124 students, which pushed the city’s enrollment past 154,000.

Maryland’s enrollment grew faster than its general population, as did those of Florida, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Nevada and Connecticut. In West Virginia the student population actually declined 4 percent.

Nevada, the state with the largest population gain, had a 76 percent increase in students. Arizona added 41 percent, Georgia 35 percent, Florida 34 percent.

Other disclosures in the report:

• Nationally, boys outnumber girls by more than 2 percentage points at every level of public schools from nursery school through 12th grade. But in undergraduate colleges, women outnumber men by almost 9 percent, and in graduate schools by about 10 percent. Girls were 10.5 percent of private school enrollment, slightly more than boys, who were 10.2 percent.

• Whites constituted 62.5 percent of all students; blacks and Hispanics each 14.9 percent; Asians, 4.3 percent; other races, 6.7 percent; multiracials, 3.6 percent. The categories overlapped and some students were counted in more than one.

• Less than half the 3- to 4-year-old population was enrolled in schools outside the home. Almost 99 percent of 7- to 15-year-olds were enrolled.

• There were 40,000 fewer school dropouts. In 2000, 1.57 million or 9.8 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds were not in school and had not graduated from high school, compared with 1.61 million or 11.2 percent of that age group a decade earlier.

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