Sunday, October 27, 2019

Why is Metro School student enrollment dropping while population is rapidly growing?

Rod Williams - There are some things I am curious about that I am surprised politicians or the media are not curious about. Being an amateur blogger I would like to find the answers and report on them if I had the resources, which unfortunately I don't. One of those things that I would like to know is this: Why is Metro School student enrollment dropping while population is rapidly growing?

We all know about Nashville's rapid growth. When you look at the 14-county Metropolitan Statistical Area, it has grown anywhere from 71 to 100 people a day for about the last five or six years. A lot of that growth has been to surrounding counties, especially Wilson and Williamson. Davidson County itself  however, has gotten its share. When the city population grows, one would expect to see a growth in public school enrollment. We are seeing a decline. Why?

One reason could be that the population growth has occurred while the actual number of school age children have declined. It could be that the of the 100 people a day moving to the greater Nashville area, those with children are locating to Wilson and Williamson and other counties and Nashville is getting the bulk of the single people and young people without children.  It may be that as school age kids grow up and graduate, or leave the pipeline, they are not being replaced by young children entering the pipeline. If that is the case, why are families not choosing Nashville? I would speculate that if you  are parents with children moving to Nashville, then one of your concerns would be the qualify of education. A comparison of school quality would be a reason to look elsewhere rather than Davidson County.

Another explanation may be that more and more parents in Davidson County are choosing private schools for their children. The average private school tuition in Nashville is $10,455 for elementary schools and $16,023 for high schools. That is a lot of money.  However, many of the people moving to Nashville are earning salaries much higher than the area median income and can afford it. I am not aware, however, of any massive growth in the enrollment of private schools. Maybe some of both of these explanations above are happening.

I love Nashville and despite the worsening traffic and the growth in the number of deplorable progressives, I am living where I want to live. We have a lot going for us. Good quality education is not one of them however.  It is possible, nevertheless, to get a great education in Nashville. Parents have to apply to get their kids in a  good schools but since the parent has to provide the transportation, the parents who care more and have the advantages of a flexible schedule can often get their child into a good school.  If your child goes to Grandbery and then Hume Fogg, they will get an excellent education. If the parent just lets their child go to the zoned school, the chances are they will not.

Unfortunately, there are not enough Grandberys and Hume Foggs. In my view we should allow charter schools that serve people other than just those living in poverty and we should be developing more quality magnet schools. Unfortunately, it appears to me that Nashville is so concerned with "equity" that they sacrifice good education to the cause. If more schools are allowed to be great schools that creates a bigger gap between the great schools and the bad schools. The school system does not seem that interested in attracting parents who want a great education for their child.  Advance placement programs and programs like International Baccalaureate would attract more students whose parents want them to have a good education, but that does not seem to be a priority for Nashville.

Below is a partial list showing Davidson County population growth and student enrollment decline. I would like to know why?  If anyone knows of a study that has examined this issue or if one has particular insight, please share it.

2019 Population 698 494; student enrollment 85,163
2018 Population 692,587; students enrolled  85,287
2017 Population 665,396; students enrolled  85, 399
2016 Population 663,339, students enrolled 86,633
2015 Population 656,572, students enrolled 85, 797
2014 Population 645,820, students enrolled 84,353
2013 Population 636,267

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