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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

How Democrat School Closings Can Wreck The Country

By Carole Hornsby Haynes September 17, 2022  Published by American Thinker 

Democrats are in a panic after the September 1, 2022 report of student test scores which show that school closures during the pandemic wiped out 50 years of academic progress in America. 

In 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) administered the National Assessment of Educational Progress, usually referred to as the "nation's report card," in math and reading for nine-year-old students to determine the academic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Across long-term trend reading and mathematics, there were no increases in scores for any of the selected student groups compared to 2020, only declines or stagnant scores for nine-year-olds. 

In math, there was a first time ever drop for nine-year-olds since the test began in 1973. Their reading scores dropped the most since 1990. Between 2020 and 2022, average reading scores for nine-year-old students dropped five points and math scores dropped seven points. 

The learning loss was most severe among low-performing and minority students, which widened between 2020-2022 when schools were closed and students learning online from home. Black students lost 13 points in math and white students lost five points – a difference of 8 points. This widened the black score gap from 25 points in 2020 to 33 points in 2022. 

Reading scores remained steady in city schools while those for suburban schools declined eight points, narrowing the gap between the two. Scores for students in the West region did not change significantly. 

Although $130 billion from the American Rescue Plan pushed by the Biden administration was allocated for the reopening of schools and social and emotional learning (including Critical Race Theory training for teachers), data from national and state tests show that elementary students are showing recovery in reading and math but middle school students are showing little to no recovery. 

Recovery efforts have been impeded by increasing student mental health problems, student absenteeism, and staffing shortages as well as classroom disruptions and behavioral problems. 

Except for hiring more staff, the other issues are being ignored by the Biden administration. In a statement addressing the NAEP results, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, 

Our top priority remains to make sure states, schools, and districts are using these funds on strategies we know work like well-resourced schools, high-dosage tutoring and enriching after-school programs – and directing the most resources towards students who fell furthest behind. We must repair the damage done by Donald Trump’s mismanagement of the pandemic – and we will. 

What needs to be addressed is why schools were shut down in the first place and then remained shut down even into 2021 when student infection rates were not found to be a significant problem. 

According to a policy brief by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty in November 2020, a study of nearly 200,000 students in 47 states showed little evidence that schools served as superspreaders. Schools throughout Europe reopened, while ours remained shuttered. Even Chinese schools were open. Private schools continued teaching safely, while public school students were forced to stay home. 

In his press statement, Cardona blamed the Trump administration for the school shutdowns, "Today’s data confirm the significant impact the prior Administration’s mismanagement of the pandemic has had on our children’s progress and academic wellbeing."  

However, the Wisconsin brief concluded that partisanship and union presence were the main drivers as to whether a school reopened. 

Districts with a teachers union were more likely to go virtual than districts without a teachers union;

Districts with a higher percentage of votes for President Trump in 2016 and 2020 were more likely to open, while those with a higher percentage for Hillary Clinton were more likely to remain shuttered;

The per-capita rate of COVID-19 cases in an area was not significantly predictive of whether a school district would reopen or not; and

As the percentage of students in a district who are low income increases, so does the likelihood that the district will have chosen virtual education for the fall. 

In 2020, teachers' unions members held sickout strikes to prevent schools from opening in various cities. The Chicago Teachers Union claimed that the reopening of schools was "rooted in sexism, racism, and misogyny."

A March 2022 interim report by Republicans on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allowed the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second largest teacher's labor union in America, to help write key sections of the 2021 COVID-19 guidelines to determine whether and how long schools should be closed and in-class instruction restricted. Key officials of the union backed Democrats in the 2020 elections.

The loss of 50 years of academic progress because of school shutdowns will cost the U.S. economy trillions of dollars.

In a study about Philadelphia and surrounding suburb districts, Penn Wharton Budget Model reported that by March 2021, black students in grades K-5 had incurred a 11.9 percent loss in lifetime income from school closures while white students had lost 10.4 percent.

A 2020 report by economists Hanushek and Woessmann that evaluated the economic impact of remote learning for developed nations suggests that K-12 students will earn 3% less over their lifetimes. This translates into an annual GDP that is, on average, 1.5% lower for the remainder of the century.

For the U.S., a loss of 1.5% in future GDP because of learning loss over one-third of a year could cost the economy $14.2 trillion. Learning loss for two-thirds of a year could mean an economic loss of $28 trillion.

The economists warned that the economic costs could be higher with permanent losses if the school fail to return to better performance levels than those in 2019.

With some schools closing even now in 2022, we can expect even greater academic and economic losses.

Early in our nation's history, Americans were the most literate in the world. By 2019 the U.S. had gone "from being the world’s best educated workforce to the least well educated in the industrial world – an existential  crisis." At that time the average American high school graduates were two-and-a-half years behind those in top-performing countries. This low education level of American workers has been estimated to cost the American economy $2 trillion annually. With the latest learning loss and its impact on our economy, America is in very deep trouble.

The blame for the failure of our public schools to instill a proper education lies directly with the Democrat party that has been in control of education for decades.

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