2009 a record year, Education Dept. says

Sept. 3, 2009 at 4:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- More U.S. students are entering or returning to schools and colleges than ever, statistics released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education indicated.

A record 50 million students are expected to attend public elementary and secondary schools this fall while 5.8 million students will be attending private schools, the Education Department said in news release.

College and university officials said they expect 18.4 million students, a projected increase of about 3.1 million since fall 2000, data from the National Center of Education Statistics indicated.

"With more children enrolling in public schools and adults pursuing higher education and career training, we have a unique opportunity to invest wisely and make thoughtful reforms in education that will produce significant dividends for our nation for decades," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "The new school year is an opportunity for all of us -- students, teachers, families, and communities -- to share the responsibility for successful schools and to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities in education."

The public school system will employ about 3.3 million teachers, meaning the teacher-pupil ratio will be 15.2, slightly lower than last year's 15.3 ratio, the department said.

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