A steady stream of stories has been appearing in our nation’s media lately reporting on the staggering learning loss of learning our children suffered under COVID lockdowns.
The infuriating part about this is that the tone of many of these articles is one of shock and surprise, as if the authors and researchers had no idea this was coming. Anyone who had children in a lockdown state knew that remote learning was an epic disaster, and many of them protested vigorously and fought back against the mandates.
Virginia DOE releases report that includes looking at learning loss related to school shutdowns in the state https://t.co/95dKHR8fKF pic.twitter.com/nfCB6i645T
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) May 22, 2022
“Worse than feared,” the tweet states. Not true—it’s exactly what anybody paying attention feared.
Nevertheless, the numbers are sobering. The New York Times reports:
…students who stayed home for most of 2020-21 fared much worse. On average, they lost the equivalent of about 50 percent of a typical school year’s math learning during the study’s two-year window.
One of the most alarming findings is that school closures widened both economic and racial inequality in learning.
Economist Thomas Lane, meanwhile, writes an Atlantic article titled “Kids Are Far, Far Behind in School”: (emphasis mine)
Growth in student achievement slowed to the point that, even in low-poverty schools, students in fall 2021 had fallen well behind what pre-pandemic patterns would have predicted; in effect, students at low-poverty schools that stayed remote had lost the equivalent of 13 weeks of in-person instruction. At high-poverty schools that stayed remote, students lost the equivalent of 22 weeks.
However, as a researcher, I did find the size of the losses startling—all the more so because I know that very few remedial interventions have ever been shown to produce benefits equivalent to 22 weeks of additional in-person instruction.
Not surprisingly, the youngest were the hardest hit. Forbes reports:
Researchers looking at the impact of the pandemic on children starting in Reception class in 2020/21 – aged four and five – found that just 59% were meeting expected levels of development by the end of the school year, compared with 72% in the previous – pre-pandemic – year’s cohort.
I could continue to bludgeon you with numbers, because as I said, there are tons of reports emerging, but you get the idea.
Meanwhile, former Education Secretary Bill Bennett appeared Sunday on Fox News; he had this to say about the ineffectiveness of lockdowns:
One of the more interesting things that people haven’t talked about in this study is this: when they looked at the kids who went to school, went back to school late in the fall of, or in the fall of ’20 and then stayed through 2021, the worry about COVID didn’t materialize. Those kids in school did not have higher rates of COVID than the kids who remained at home. I hope we have learned this lesson.
Almost every story about the loss of learning notes the racial and economic gap—simply, minorities and the poor fared worse. Why? According to the New York Times:
Many of these schools are in major cities, which tend to be run by Democratic officials, and Republicans were generally quicker to reopen schools. High-poverty schools are also more likely to have unionized teachers, and some unions lobbied for remote schooling.
Did they hire a former RedState writer over there or what? Actually, admitting the Democrat policies failed miserably isn’t usually their modus operandi. It’s only fitting therefore that they also seem to have written my conclusion for me:
Were many of these problems avoidable? The evidence suggests that they were. Extended school closures appear to have done much more harm than good, and many school administrators probably could have recognized as much by the fall of 2020.
Gee, ya think?
I could leave it there because that’s a pretty massive indictment of what happened, but I can’t help myself. To wit: lockdowns were a massive failure, our kids suffered, the press and the Democrats dumped on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for daring to open his state and they were wrong, wrong, wrong.
We must never let this happen again.
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