In comments to my post from last night, lamenting the finding that now more than 50% of public school students in the South are poor, Lewberry raises a sensible possible explanation:
I'm willing to bet that one of many reasons for the rise in the percentage of public school children in poverty is that children from low income families are just about the only kids left in public schools.So, his hope, and mine too (I would have guessed the same ) is that we're not getting so dramatically poorer, as much as those with any means are fleeing the public school system. That might be a more palatable explanation, if only it were true. Findings from the National Center for Education Statistics show just the opposite: since 1985, when private school students made up 12.35% of the elementary and secondary school population, their enrollment has steadily declined as a percentage of the total student population. If I was as handy as Kevin Drum, I'd prepare a helpful chart, but for now we will just have to visualize...
1980---11.54%This decline is mitigated somewhat by home-schooling which has steadily increased over that same span. If anything, that may flatten this line. But the truth is clear, and sad. The middle class is not fleeing to private schools. It's shrinking, and getting poorer. And in the South, the region with the smallest percentage of private school students (not the largest - as would be the case if the private school factor were to blame), the numbers are staggering and unacceptable.