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Posts tagged ‘school shutdowns’

Lockdowns Have Caused More Children To Drop Out Of School Than Americans Have Died Of COVID


Lockdowns Have Caused More Children To Drop Out Of School Than Americans Have Died Of COVID

The past nine months have seen more than a quarter-million Americans die from the coronavirus. Each and every death represents a tragedy — a life cut short, an empty place at the family table this holiday season, children mourning their parents, even parents mourning their children.

But a separate and ongoing tragedy has also struck at countless more than another quarter-million Americans: Children who have disappeared from school following last spring’s COVID-19 closures. survey conducted by CBS’s “60 Minutes” found that among 78 of the largest school districts in the country, at least 240,000 students remained unaccounted for when school resumed, in many cases virtually, this fall. This number doesn’t, of course, include the many other children schools have lost in other districts.

Each and every one of those cases also represents a tragedy. Indeed, it’s a slow-moving crisis. Every child who doesn’t return to school to complete his or her education represents dreams unfulfilled. It means diminished career prospects, lower earnings, an increased risk of trouble with law enforcement or substance misuse, more expense to society through the criminal justice and welfare systems, and on, and on, and on.

Just as these students have fallen through the proverbial cracks, however, policymakers do not seem to be doing nearly enough to solve the problem.

Obstacles to Online Learning

In their reporting on these missing children, “60 Minutes” spoke with one of them, a high school senior in Tampa, Fla. named Kiara. Kiara said she had moved around town eight or nine times since elementary school; her stepfather lost her job when the pandemic hit, and she was currently living in a motel.

A school district administrator said Kiara had been a good student before the pandemic but started failing classes when learning went virtual. Listening to her describe her situation, it’s not hard to figure out why her performance suffered:

Not having that teacher to really talk to was kinda difficult and just me not having a laptop at the time was difficult doing it on my phone. Just such a small screen. …

[Doing virtual learning via her phone] was very difficult because my phone is really skinny. At the time, I didn’t have glasses so I’d have to, like, slide to the left and slide to the right and slide up. So it was just really iffy. …

Definitely, I definitely come outside [to escape her crowded motel room]. I’ll sit here and study. But sometimes, you know, the mosquitoes are coming, you know. It’s hard.

At times, Kiara would walk a mile to a nearby park to get some peace and quiet to complete her work — but the park didn’t have WiFi or an electrical outlet. She said she would “try to make it work as best I could,” but it doesn’t take a doctorate in education to realize why any student’s performance would suffer in that environment.

In some respects, Kiara represents one of the luckier victims of the school shutdowns. She has big dreams — she wants to become a dental hygienist, and eventually a dentist — and fought through the obstacles the COVID-19 closures put in her path. But it’s sadly understandable to see how some families and some children would just give up.

Enrollment Down, and It’s Not All Homeschooling

Across the country, public school enrollment has declined for the current academic year. Outside D.C., Montgomery County, Maryland’s public school enrollment declined by 3,300, or about 2 percent, this fall; on the other side of the Potomac River, Fairfax County, Virginia’s enrollment declined by nearly 5 percent. In Missouri, public school enrollment dropped 3.2 percent statewide, with a 31 percent drop in preschool enrollment and a nearly 10 percent decline in kindergarten enrollment.

These changes represent two distinct trends — both ends of the proverbial barbell. In Montgomery County, Fairfax County, and other wealthy enclaves, the enrollment declines come from affluent families enrolling their children in private schools to escape another year of virtual or hybrid learning in public education. At the other end of the spectrum, children like Kiara in families facing financial and other logistical difficulties dropped out of virtual learning entirely.

Open the Schools

The chaos children like Kiara continue to face with virtual learning — a national scandal if there ever was one — argues for a major expansion of school choice, so that no child faces these kinds of obstacles again. Thankfully, Ohio just enacted a major expansion of school choice, giving students an early Christmas present; other states should follow suit (in the interests of full disclosure, I have worked on a variety of projects advocating for school choice; however, no clients had input into this article).

Until every parent has access to school choice, school districts should start taking steps to reopen their classrooms to in-person instruction. There are fine and valid disagreements to be had over the necessity of business closures during the pandemic, but the idea that bars should remain open yet schools remain closed runs counter to any sense of logic, not to mention good public policy.

The future of hundreds of thousands of children lies in the hands of policymakers and school officials coming up with a plan to open their doors as soon as possible, and keep them open. Kiara and students like her deserve far better than what they have received during the past nine months — and they deserve it now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chris Jacobs is founder and CEO of Juniper Research Group, and author of the book, “The Case Against Single Payer.” He is on Twitter: @chrisjacobsHC.

Feds Canceling Tests Will Hide For Years How School Shutdowns Screwed Kids


Feds Canceling Tests Will Hide For Years How School Shutdowns Screwed Kids

A federal agency is canceling congressionally mandated nationwide tests scheduled for 2021, ending the only way to reliably measure the effect of different school shutdowns across state lines until approximately 2023,  the agency’s commissioner announced the day before Thanksgiving.

“The change in operations and lack of access to students to be assessed means that NAEP will not be able to produce estimates of what students know and can do that would be comparable to either past or future national or state estimates,” said James Woodworth, the commissioner of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, in a Nov. 25 statement.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is a biannual test in reading and math that Congress requires states to participate in to get federal K-12 funding. Because states water down their tests to hide how poorly many American children are educated, and NAEP uses higher standards separated from politically manipulated policies such as teacher evaluations, it is considered the nation’s “gold standard” test. It has operated since 1969, and its next test window is early 2021.

Usually the test results fully come out in the calendar year after they are collected, meaning the postponement likely eliminates this important window into national achievement until 2022. That’s three years of hiding the truth about how governors have damaged American kids and our nation’s future while foreign competitors have kept their children in school because COVID is a low risk for young people.

On July 31, the NAEP’s governing board passed a resolution urging the commissioner to carry out the tests as legally mandated. It noted “in a time of such unprecedented disruption to education and assessment, there is a need to collect reliable and valid data to understand and compare student achievement across the nation, states, select large urban districts, and various student subgroups to support effective policy, research, and resource allocation.” It also noted that NCES had developed plans to safely administer the tests, and Congress was considering additional funding to make that possible.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has continued to require states to follow the law and administer their own annual tests. Yet she wrote in a Nov. 24 letter to Congress that she directed NAEP to cancel the 2021 tests as a consequence of governor and schools’ decisions to create chaotic schooling environments that complicate testing.

“The 2021 NAEP tests would have shed light on the significant learning loss following the school closures last spring and the widespread failure to reopen schools this fall,” DeVos wrote. “While the data would have been helpful, the much more valuable and actionable measures of learning loss will be the annual assessments required of states by the Every Student Succeeds Act. I strongly believe that states should implement their own assessments on schedule in spring 2021, given that they do not face the same constraints as NAEP and have ample time to plan for successful test administration tailored to their unique circumstances.”

In addition to participating in the biannual NAEP, federal law requires states to administer their own tests annually as a condition of receiving federal funds.  Woodworth noted that states will still be conducting their own tests this coming spring, asserting that is safer than having NAEP personnel do it.

He made no mention of having considered ways to still achieve the law’s objective of transparency in exchange for public funding for education by measures such as asking states to build NAEP questions into state assessments, having local teachers proctor their own classes for the NAEP tests, or using remote proctoring, which is common in higher education.

Historically, Republicans have made deals with Democrats to increase federal funding for K-12 in exchange for so-called “accountability” measures, most of which are tied to tests. With no consistent and reliable test results for nearing a decade now — testing was also both disrupted and rendered less useful with the massive Common Core overhaul President Obama forced on the nation — Democrats once again continue to achieve their objectives while requiring Republicans to forfeit theirs.

It’s long past time for Republicans to stop playing this game and release states from federal education meddling. It only works as a ratchet to the left. If states and federal agencies can ignore federal law “because pandemic,” and the Obama administration could ignore the law “because ‘progress,’” states can ignore federal education law because the U.S. Department of Education is unconstitutional.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Her newest ebook is “The Family Read-Aloud Advent Calendar,” and her bestselling ebook is “Classic Books for Young Children.” A Hillsdale College honors graduate, @JoyPullmann is also the author of “The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids,” from Encounter Books.

Politicians Aren’t Canceling Their Celebrations And Gatherings, And Neither Am I


Reported by Dana Loesch NOVEMBER 20, 2020

Politicians Aren’t Canceling Their Celebrations And Gatherings, And Neither Am I

My parents and in-laws haven’t seen their grandkids in nearly a year. Because we live states apart, the most time we spend together is during the holidays and a week in the summer. Due to the lockdown this year, the grandparents have only been able to see our kids during video calls.

It could be worse; some dear friends of ours buried a parent during the lockdown with no guests or funeral, and the grandchildren had to stay away. Family bonds do more than just unite people with the same origin or name, however. Those bonds hold us up and together during times of struggle and grief.

These painful life events can shape our perspectives for the remainder of our time on Earth. I learned a lot about dealing with grief when I attended family funerals growing up. When my grandmother passed away years ago, my cousins and I stood solemnly together as we watched our aunts and uncles say their final graveside goodbyes.

When our uncles walked my grandpa to her casket, we witnessed this quiet, strong man cry for the first time in our lives. I would not have been able to watch it without the rest of my family there. He didn’t just cry; his sobs shook his thin, 6’3” frame and threw him off balance. He leaned on the casket to help support his weight, and we gave him a moment before swarming him for comfort.

The sight was a shock that swept us into a new reality: We, the grandkids, wouldn’t be “the grandkids” in our family’s hierarchy much longer. Each generation took one step up that imaginary staircase with the death of our grandparents. Our kids assumed the step below us where we once stood. The presence of family makes that meeting with mortality easier to process.

I had just given birth to my second child when my grandfather passed away, living long enough to learn that his second great-grandson was on this Earth, miles away from him, but healthy. I didn’t get to attend his funeral because it was too soon after childbirth, the day I brought my baby home.

That night, I rocked my son to sleep in the solitude and darkness of his nursery and cried until there was nothing left in my soul to expend. That heavy sort of grief is meant to be borne by more than one. It took a long while to get past that.

Lockdowns Have Caused Immense Harm

That’s the closest experience I have to compare when I read about grief during lockdowns. This is why my heart truly breaks over stories from others who were forced by lockdowns and restrictions to endure this with their loved ones.

The emotional dam of a non-political, grief-stricken friend burst forth on Facebook after she read about politicians defending protest gatherings while she and her sister had to bury their father alone, just themselves, on a cold, clear March day earlier this year. The pain seems endless, and the lockdowns have predictably caused immense unintended consequences:

  • Depression rates for every age demographic have tripled.
  • Domestic abuse has increased globally.
  • Child abuse cases have increased.
  • Foster kids are in jeopardy.
  • Sixty percent of small businesses that closed during the last lockdown will not reopen, and others barely hanging on are giving up.
  • Even though schools aren’t superspreaders and medical professionals have been telling districts to reopen, many haven’t. New York City just closed its schools again.
  • Remote learning isn’t working, and our kids are falling behind — badly.
  • A new nickname has developed for an entire generation of kids: Generation COVID. And no, the kids are not alright.
  • People are turning to drugs and alcohol to cope.
  • Fatal drug overdoses have skyrocketed.
  • Deaths from non-coronavirus health issues have climbed since the start of the last lockdown as people don’t seek medical care for treatable illnesses. The lockdown could kill more than the virus.

‘Experts’ Have Given Us Every Reason Not to Trust Them

This is all to control the spread of a virus that science can’t yet predict. So-called experts told us “15 days to flatten the curve,” but many months later, they say we’re “in an elongated wave.” They still have no idea about immunity. Another study came out showing masks don’t actually reduce coronavirus infection rates. Dr. Anthony Fauci told us in the beginning not to wear masks:

Later, Fauci admitted he lied when he told people masks weren’t essential. Politicians and “experts” shouldn’t be surprised when their actions like these make reasonable people lose faith in their leadership and unwilling to follow their rules.

Many of us comforted ourselves through the dark, lonely spring and desolate summer with visions of family gatherings over the holidays. Now we’re told to skip those too or just have a “virtual Thanksgiving.” If you can’t do that, limit guests, make everyone wear masks, stay away from each other, and have everyone bring their own food — unless your name rhymes with Schmavin Twosome, that is:

California Medical Association officials were among the guests seated next to Gov. Gavin Newsom at a top California political operative’s opulent birthday dinner at the French Laundry restaurant this month.

CEO Dustin Corcoran and top CMA lobbyist Janus Norman both joined the dinner at the French Laundry, an elite Napa fine dining restaurant, to celebrate the 50th birthday of lobbyist and longtime Newsom adviser Jason Kinney, a representative of the powerful interest group confirmed Wednesday morning.

The rest of us would get fined for doing this.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker dodged a reporter’s question about his family’s Thanksgiving plans — they traveled to their second home in Florida — and it made the rounds on social media. Pritzker had to return to do damage control: “I was taken aback by yesterday’s question about my family’s holiday plans, in part because my wife and I were in the process of making the very hard decision that we may need to celebrate Thanksgiving apart from one another for the first time ever, and it was weighing heavily on my mind.”

He was “taken aback” that reporters, during a press conference about COVID-19 Thanksgiving plans, asked him if he was going to follow his own lockdown orders — especially knowing that Pritzker’s wife violated the last lockdown by fleeing to their multimillion-dollar equestrian estate in Florida?

We would be fined for this, but these Democratic governors are exempt from coronavirus and lockdown concerns, apparently. It’s not just governors, however. Don’t forget House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the shuttered salon.

Before her was Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her lockdown salon trip. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser locked down residents while she attended Biden rallies. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo refused to wear a mask and self-quarantine.

California lawmakers lived it up in Maui during lockdown on the excuse of a “conference” (We all have to Zoom, why can’t they?). New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio went to the gym while you were locked down at home. The Daily Caller compiled a list of hypocritical lawmakers violating lockdown, and you can find an additional great thread here.

Americans Are Sick of the Double Standard

We have all sacrificed, some more than others, and we are tired of the double standard. We are sick of bureaucrats leading us around, treating us like children instead of the employers whose tax dollars form their paychecks.

Americans are weary of speculation presented as science. We are tired of being told that our businesses are nonessential, that worker lives are nonessential, and that our kids and their wellbeing are nonessential. We are sick of hearing that any deviation from the mandates passed down to us by politicians who refuse to follow the rules means sentencing our neighbors to death.

I rejected that outright:

wrote about this accusation in April, noting that the intent of our elitist overlords is murky. Who are they to decide which workers are essential? By the politicians’ own rhetoric, those “essential” workers are actually “expendable,” since they are most susceptible to the same virus the electeds use to scare the rest of us into our homes.

For those maligning business owners as murderous monsters because they simply want to pay their bills consider this — certain businesses were declared essential: Food delivery is essential but cancer treatment isn’t. So you’re fine with risking the lives of delivery drivers to avoid picking up your pizza yourself? Is it acceptable to risk the lives of restaurant staff because you don’t want to make your own food? Is it acceptable to risk the lives and health stability of cancer patients as well as the livelihood of medical staff being furloughed around the country to demonstrate a devotion to saving lives? If you want to discuss murkiness of intent, this is it. By declaring that some people are essential, haven’t you already decided that some lives are expendable?

This is an awful virus. Unlike a military battle, this is a foe that will never be vanquished. We can vaccinate against it and build up our immunities, but just as with chickenpox, polio, and other illnesses before this virus, there is no cure, only prevention and acclimation. Overreaction is a lesser enemy, and moderation is an ally. There is a difference between reasonable concern and “Chicken Little” hysteria.

The hysteria is exhausting. We are tired of being told that contracting the virus means instant death when it emphatically does not — it has a 99.98 percent survivability rate. We are tired of being told that because some can’t venture out, no one should. Nothing in life is perfectly safe, including freedom. But freedom is a lot safer than the statist systems so many leftists champion.

It’s Time to Declare Our Freedom

As a daughter who doesn’t have much of her family left, whose kids are growing up faster than she can even capture with her phone camera, I am not going to miss out on life. I am not going to let my parents age out of this world while lying to my own heart that it’s OK if I missed an entire year or more with them. I am not going to tell my children that it’s alright if they don’t see their family anymore because we have to hide in our homes.

More than anything else, I am sick of being told I don’t have the right of risk when risk is part of freedom. I will not be lectured by people who say that eating in a restaurant with health protocols is riskier than shutting down the largest economy in the world. I won’t be bullied by bureaucrats who say it’s risker to reopen schools than to force an entire generation into lockdown for nearly a year, stunting them in every way but loneliness. I will not be shamed by lawmakers who don’t follow their own rules. I won’t be preached at by pundits too purposefully obtuse to see nuance over their partisanship.

I am going to host my parents for Thanksgiving, and I hope to host my in-laws for Christmas. I will continue living as a free and responsible American with liberties for which my family has taken bullets and mine shards, until the day comes that our government wants to stage a modernized version of 1776 by trying to end that perfectly wonderful freedom.

As Teddy Roosevelt said, “For those who fight for it, life has a flavor the sheltered will never know.” Freedom is beautiful and scary. It’s up to each of us to maintain it.

Dana Loesch is a nationally syndicated talk radio host of “The Dana Show” with Radio America and a best-selling author.

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