December 11, 2020

Remote Learning Isn’t Working

Keeping our kids out of school poses a greater threat to their health than COVID-19.

Earlier this year, fears over the coronavirus shuttered classrooms across the country as school systems opted for makeshift online learning. At the time, the stopgap measure seemed like the only way to keep our kids both safe and engaged with their schooling.

Despite growing pains faced by teachers and students suddenly forced to learn in front of computers, the overall impact on the ability of students to learn was unknown. Months later, though, the evidence now shows many children are failing their online classes. Remote education may be fine for some adults, but most kids need to be in schools with their teachers and classmates.

And the emerging statistics are even more troubling for certain demographics.

Take Virginia, for example. As education reporter Hannah Natanson writes in The Washington Post, “A report on student grades from one of the nation’s largest school districts offers some of the first concrete evidence that online learning is forcing a striking drop in students’ academic performance, and that the most vulnerable students — children with disabilities and English-language learners — are suffering the most.”

Natanson adds, “Fairfax’s data shows that children who are engaged and care deeply about school — children in stable home situations, whose parents have sufficient resources — will stay engaged in an online environment, while children whose temperament, socioeconomic status or home situation have historically barred them from academic achievement will slip further and further behind.”

Across the country, the results are equally alarming.

“A study of 4.4 million students,” reports The Washington Free Beacon, “found that test scores of black, Hispanic, and poor children took the biggest hit from school closures. Math scores of vulnerable students dropped up to 10 percentage points from last year. Minority parents in California are suing the state over its mandatory school lockdowns, which the plaintiffs claim have left their children behind. Furthermore, a large study in October found that schools aren’t driving infections.”

In Montgomery County, Maryland (the state’s largest school district), The Washington Post reports, “More than 36 percent of ninth-graders from low-income families failed the first marking period in English. That compares with fewer than 6 percent last year, when the same students took English in eighth grade.”

Such clear evidence might force teachers unions and politicians to reconsider their support of lockdowns. After all, even Dr. Anthony Fauci now says the classroom is the best place for the intellectual and psychological well-being of students, after having repeatedly and wrongly expressed the opposite opinion for months.

So now that we know online learning is leaving many children behind, isn’t it time to get them back into the classroom? The data continue to clearly show that young people are the least vulnerable of all groups to COVID-19.

Not so fast.

Democrat politicians and teachers unions don’t want to send kids back to school, knowing all along that it’s hurting the very children they claim to care about. Instead, they’re using the issue to push a broader agenda.

As Reason Foundation school-choice director Corey DeAngelis writes, “In their report on safely reopening schools, for example, the Los Angeles’ teachers union went beyond detailing the safety needs of teachers and students, also calling for politicians to enact a wealth tax, Medicare for All, and a ban on charter schools.”

Just once, it’d be nice if teachers unions put kids’ well-being ahead of political expediency, but that’s probably too much to ask. They’ll hold children hostage for as long as they can get away with it.

Fortunately, some parents are growing tired of watching children increasingly become victims of misguided political decisions, and they’re speaking out to get kids back in school sooner rather than later.

For all the talk we hear about “listening to the science” when it comes to COVID-19, no one seems to be listening to what the data now clearly show: Online learning is hurting America’s students.

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