Census: Private school enrollment continues to decline

By Mel Leonor

Even as school enrollment remains steady, the number of students enrolling in private schools has declined by a half-million over the past decade, new Census data show.

Private elementary school enrollment dropped from 3.1 to 2.6 million between 2006 and 2016, and private high school enrollment dropped from 1.5 to 1.3 million in the same time span.

The trend has registered in a handful of studies over the past few years, even as vouchers and tax credit scholarships have proliferated. Students attending private schools remain mostly white, but Census data show private schools have become more diverse over the past decade: white student enrollment is at 74 percent, down from 82 percent in 2006.

Among the other Census findings: The number of Hispanic students in the U.S. has doubled since 1996 — an increase of 9 million students since 1996. Hispanic students now make up 22.7 percent of all students enrolled in public and private schools, and 25.1 percent of all students in kindergarten through the eighth grade.

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