From: Brad Wright/CNN Producer
Subject: Riley Warns Taxpayers: School Enrollments On Steep Climb
Elementary and secondary school enrollments, both public and private, will set new records every year until the year 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Education. More schoolchildren means taxpayers in many parts of the country will be faced with some hard choices soon.
"Portable classrooms and short term solutions just don't cut it," said Education Secretary Richard W. Riley in a statement. "We need to build some 6,000 new schools in the next 10 years. Children shouldn't spend their entire educational experience going to schools in portable classrooms. Right now school overcrowding is a local concern, but it has the potential to become a national crisis."
Not only does the burgeoning number of elementary and high school students create an expensive problem in many districts, but the Clinton Administration's goal of raising education standards means intensified teacher training, an additional expense.
Riley told reporters that a record 52.2 million students are expected to attend school this fall, largely at the high school level. That will surpass the record of 51 million set last fall. Riley said enrollments will continue to increase until the year 2007, when they will "level off" at about 54.3 million students.
Overall, the increase nationwide over the next 10 years will be about four percent. But some states will be hit much harder than that. California expects a 16 percent increase. Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Georgia expect increases of 10 percent or more. Twenty states and the District of Columbia anticipate decreases.
The Education Department's annual "Back to School" report indicates that the number of high school graduates will increase by 18 percent over the next 10 years.
"There will be a 21 percent increase in the number of full-time college students in the next 10 years," Riley said. "The increasing demand for a college education and the greater number of young people seeking to go to college gives our nation's system of higher education a unique opportunity to play a powerful role in the current effort to raise standards on the secondary level. Colleges and universities can send the powerful message that they expect nothing less than the best from these young people."
The report says that delays in marriage and child-bearing among baby boomers is one factor in the rising enrollments. It indicates that minorities, and Hispanics in particular, have higher birth rates than other groups and are becoming the largest segment of enrollment population as a result. Immigration and students staying in school longer are also contributing to the enrollment increases, the report says.
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E-mail: School Enrollments On Steep Climb
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