Even as a handful of public school districts in the U.S. revert to online-only learning in the face of coronavirus spread, an even bigger worry looms over public schools: what happened to all the kids?

It turns out, they are leaving the public schools, and getting their educations somewhere else. According to an NPR study:

…the latest headcount data directly from more than 600 districts in 23 states and Washington, D.C., including statewide data from Massachusetts, Georgia and Alabama. We found that very few districts, especially larger ones, have returned to pre-pandemic numbers. Most are now posting a second straight year of declines. This is particularly true in some of the nation’s largest systems…

Systems like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. Not surprisingly, all with strong teachers’ union presences. Where are the kids going?

Educators and researchers we spoke with gave several possible explanations for the continuing falloff: an increase in home-schooling, a shift to charter schools and private schools, another year of delays in entering pre-K or kindergarten, and families moving to enroll in districts that weren’t captured in our sample.

Educrats are worried largely because fewer warm bodies in the building means less local, state, and federal money to spend. Some school officials say they welcome the competition from alternative education outlets, and are working to entice kids back to the public school ranks.  Good luck with that.  In the meantime, let’s have even more competition – that’s the best way to improve education…and provide the greatest benefits to kids.