As with so much else, The New York Times is only now recognizing what sane Americans have known for years: “remote learning” was, and is, a fraud and a failure. John Sexton at Hot Air.com reports:
The pandemic set up a kind of unplanned experiment as schools in some locations, mostly red states, reopened quickly and schools in other locations, mostly blue states, delayed reopening for fear of spreading COVID. David Leonhardt looks at the research for what happened to students in various environments and finds the results are pretty clear and pretty dramatic. Schools that re-opened sooner had significantly less learning loss than those that delayed reopening.
‘On average, students who attended in-person school for nearly all of 2020-21 lost about 20 percent worth of a typical school year’s math learning during the study’s two-year window…
But 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…
‘It’s pretty clear that remote school was not good for learning,’ said Emily Oster, a Brown University economist and the co-author of another such study. As Matthew Chingos, an Urban Institute expert, puts it: ‘Students learned less if their school was remote than they would have in person.’
Golly, who coulda thunk it? They lost far more than just math learning.
The data also shows that students at schools with higher levels of poverty suffered more learning loss, not because of poverty per se but because of politics.
‘Many of these [high poverty] 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.’
Who could possibly have imagined politics would have anything to do with public health and education?
If you follow that first link above, you’ll see that is the conclusion of a study of reopening plans in Michigan.
‘Partisanship played a much stronger role in local decisions than state decisions. We analyze local district reopening plans and public opinion on reopening in the politically competitive state of Michigan. Partisanship was much more associated with district reopening plans than COVID-19 rates. Republicans in the Michigan public were also far more favorable than were Democrats toward in-person learning. States’ decisions to leave reopening plans to their districts opened the way for students’ experiences to be shaped by their area’s partisanship.’
This too was just unimaginable, right?
Leonhardt doesn’t say this but he could have based on this data: Democrats and their pet teacher’s unions are responsible for making pandemic learning loss twice as bad as it had to be for millions of students.
The decision to keep schools closed also has the potential to be a longer term catastrophe for many of the schools involved. School budgets are based on head counts and many fed up parents are simply taking their kids out of public schools because they were closed for so long. [emphasis added]
Sexton speaks of how NYC school student populations have shrunk by 8.1%. This is interesting:
The only two of the country’s top 10 school districts that haven’t lost population since the pandemic hit are both in Florida (Orange and Hillsborough counties), where Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered schools open by edict in the fall of 2020. Of the 46 states in AEI’s study, only four added students to their public schools: The heavily Republican South Dakota, Utah, North Dakota, and Idaho. The six states that lost between 0 percent and 1 percent during that time, including Florida and Texas, are also GOP strongholds.’
And this–not ABC–is just common sense:
Looking back on what DeSantis was saying in the summer of 2020 is pretty striking with hindsight.
‘We spent months saying that there were certain things that were essential that included fast-food restaurants. It included Walmart and Home Depot and Lowe’s,’ DeSantis said at a news conference in Jacksonville with U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. ‘If all that is essential, then educating our kids is absolutely essential, and they have been put to the back of the line in some respects.’
As one might expect, the Harris/Biden/Whoever Administration, Joe Biden, Temporary President, is late and lame:
Biden’s “day one” realization came about six months behind DeSantis. As always, take the link and read the whole thing. It seems for D/S/Cs, bad ideas, particularly those damaging to kids, are never allowed to die a well deserved death.
The disaster of “remote learning” is a topic I’ve addressed several times, and it obviously bears repeating. Consider this from School Closures: Everything You Need To Know, from July of 2020, just a few months after my retirement from teaching:
Schools across the country—yes, I’m being optimistic—may be opening within a month, but the D/S/C left, which includes teacher’s unions, is resisting opening schools. Every sentient educator knows ‘online’ or ‘distance’ learning for K-12 is a fraud. It’s all but worthless, and kids learn little or nothing, if they bother to participate at all. Yet, the Left is determined not to let this particular crisis go to waste…
I followed that with Remote Learning: A Few Things To Keep In Mind, in December of 2021:
The point of this article, however, is to explain what school shutdowns and ‘distance learning,’ or its various euphemisms, means for kids and parents. It’s not what educrats claim.
I dealt with it for a single semester and was fortunate my planned retirement fell at the end of it. I would not have survived any more of that kind of insanity and fraud. In my medium sized Texas high school, which was not unionized, Texas being a right to work state, chaos reigned.
My school had quite a few cheap Chromebook laptops, which were handed out to any of the kids who wanted them so they could—bwahahaaaaaa—do their schoolwork via the Internet. Such devices were of no use to kids who did not have the Internet at home, or who did not have a wireless setup, but as we quickly learned, it was all about the appearance of teaching and learning, not the reality of very little learning and less teaching. Sure, most kids had smart phones, and Internet access through them, but try typing an essay on a smartphone sometime.
Here’s a major dose of reality: learning over the Internet works only with adults motivated to do the work, and who are capable of learning that way. It works for college because they’re paying for it, and are there to get a degree. Honest college teachers would admit they’re not truly teaching that way. With high school kids and the lower grades, that motivation is, to put it mildly, lacking.
We had a computer program we had to use to post our lessons, and which allowed us to grade them—online—and notify the kids of their grades. It sort of worked. Sometimes kid’s work was saved and I could access it, sometimes not. Sometimes I could reply to them, sometimes not. Sometimes things just disappeared into the electronic ether. I posted every lesson there and on my lesson plan website. I also updated my gradebook daily, which didn’t matter.
The teachers at my school actually wanted to teach. They wanted to be in school every day, and knowing what they were forced to do was grossly ineffective, depriving kids of a real educational opportunity, they did the best they could.
Unfortunately, that kind of ‘teaching’ introduced enormous lag times. I could only post about an assignment per week, a single grade, when I was used to logging five or more per week. Post the assignment, then wait for the kids to find it. There was no sense posting due dates, because one couldn’t be sure when the kids would find the assignment, or if there was some glitch with the program, their Internet connection, their hardware or software, or general ghosts in the machine. Due dates were forever, sort-of completed assignments trickled in, or mostly didn’t, and my frustration mounted, because I knew I was committing academic fraud, and there wasn’t a damned thing I could do about it.
Our district administrators quickly realized we really couldn’t grade kids, but we would keep up the appearance of making and grading assignments. We all knew very few kids were going to do the assignments, and it wouldn’t be fair to fail them, because we knew this method of ‘instruction’ was woefully inadequate. In effect, we knew we were cheating the kids out of a competent opportunity to learn, and we weren’t going to cheat them out of a passing grade. So no matter how little they did, or didn’t do, all our kids were going to pass. We started out with the idea the kids would get the grade they had at the end of the first semester, and eventually just passed everybody.
Depending on the class, from 10-30% of my kids actually did assignments. Throughout the semester, I would occasionally get e-mails from parents and kids asking where the assignments were and how to do them. This despite the district constantly explaining things online and in the media. I sent constant, individual e-mails to every one of my students and parents explaining things and encouraging them to respond. About 20% didn’t have e-mail addresses and the district wasn’t about to spring for stamps for them. Most didn’t respond. I tried phone calls, but had to drop that. Imagine playing phone tag with more than 100 people, many who didn’t want to play.
I was very much handicapped by the format I was forced to use. Particularly in English, a great deal of reading and writing is required if one is doing it right. Most kids aren’t readers, so we had to do our reading almost entirely in class, or it didn’t get done. Online lessons guaranteed kids wouldn’t read, and even for the few that did, I was limited in length and difficulty level in what I could post. There was no way for me to stop and explain unfamiliar words, concepts, relevant history, and the ins and outs of human nature. And if one didn’t read, and have all that explanation and discussion, there was no way to do the assignments, even though I was forced to keep the questions and writings on a very low level.
Imagine what that did to my mythology classes. Only a semester long, my second semester mythology class passed, but learned very little. We didn’t have enough texts to send them home, so I had to post readings—much shorter ones—and hope they’d read them. Most didn’t.
I made an observation about lazy teachers:
All they have to do is pretend to teach. They don’t have to deal with any annoying kids or parents, there’s virtually no work and even less supervision, and the kids quickly catch on and play along: they do nothing. It’s a politicized, unionized, lazy and incompetent teacher’s dream.
But what of parents? Can’t they make their kids do their schoolwork? Keep in mind in most two-parent households, both parents work. Even if the kids are old enough to be trusted home alone, it’s difficult at best for them to ride herd on the kids. It’s also difficult, particularly if parents aren’t computer literate, for them to keep track of what their kids are or aren’t doing. And of course, if they don’t have the Internet in their home, it’s impossible. Savvy parents also quickly catch onto the [online] ‘teaching’ scam, and while they’re worried about their kid’s education, what can they do? They’re stuck with the appearance of teaching and learning rather than its reality too.
The reality, gentle readers, is distance learning is virtually no learning for most kids. Some kids are self-motivated and intellectually curious. They’re going to learn regardless of what teachers do, but even they learn best and most in the classroom with capable, inspiring and hard working teachers who make it clear they actually give a damn about them. That’s hard to do—impossible really—online.
The damage is far greater than most understand. Kids aren’t hard drives. A year of school doesn’t merely download 500 MB onto their drives for later retrieval. The data can’t just be downloaded at some time in the future. Learning is about not only retaining information, but building abilities, making neural connections that allow for additional neural connections that make a progressively complete and functional human being. It’s every sight, sound and smell, every social interaction, every new idea, newly learned and practiced skill, building bigger, better brains. If all of that isn’t there, if the learning opportunities of a year are skipped, the loss can’t be calculated, and will never be regained.
Final Thoughts: In sane states, mask mandates, closed schools, social distancing and all the rest are things of the past. Normal Americans have realized how badly our federal and state public health commissars misled them. They now know how many died needlessly and alone, and the damage done to our economy and children. They know the truth about risks, a truth that had to be forced out of the federal and state commissars. They know the virus was real, but the response was largely a hoax, a screen for a totalitarian power grab. Even today, politicians and bureaucrats only reluctantly, and in some instances, when forced by judges, give up the power they seized when they didn’t let the false Covid crisis go to waste—to our detriment.
Americans have become, for the most part, Americans again, brave, sensible people who know viruses are always among us, and throwing away our lives and cowering in fear is not a solution, but subjugation. They know denying children the best possible educational opportunity throws away America’s future prosperity, even existence.
It’s a lesson many educrats and teachers unions and their mindless minions have yet to embrace. They must be forced, and for once, it’s really “for the children.”