Brian Mark Weber / December 18, 2020

The State Can’t Solve All Our Problems

Regardless of what bureaucrats tell us, the evidence shows that children are better off in the classroom.

Leave it to the state to create a problem that it can then promise to fix.

This is how government keeps on growing. We’re conditioned to look to our representatives for answers, who in turn devise solutions that create more programs and redistribute more wealth to fix the problems they created in the first place. Before long, we’re looking at $27 trillion in national debt and a government that controls our healthcare, our blow dryers, and our lightbulbs.

Case in point: Governors across the country continue to shut down schools in fear of COVID-19, despite the twin facts that our youngest are the least likely to catch or spread the virus and that they need interaction with teachers and classmates for their own emotional and psychological well-being.

Parents looking over their child’s shoulders and seeing the faces of 20 students on a Zoom call chatting with their teacher may look like education, but it’s a poor substitute. And the depth of the problem goes far beyond lost time.

According to CNBC, “It’s all taken an unthinkable toll on children — a social, emotional and academic ordeal so extreme that some advocates and experts warn its repercussions could rival those of a hurricane or other disaster.”

The story highlights a range of negative effects of the shutdowns, including an increase in the number of mental health-related visits to emergency rooms, millions of children facing hunger, students failing basic academic assessments, pupils missing significant class time, and children with physical or emotional disabilities being left even further behind than where they started.

According to a report issued by Bellwether Education Partners, the vast majority of students missing school since March are those learning English, those who are homeless or in foster care, or those struggling with disabilities.

“The long-term consequences of this crisis,” according to the report, “are difficult to estimate without seeming hyperbolic. Once a student leaves school, it is difficult to reenter. One study of a large, urban district found that two-thirds of high school dropouts never reenrolled, and among those who do, about half drop out again. Circumstances that might push a student out of school today are very different, but even if all of the currently missing students return to school as soon as they are allowed to do so, months of missed opportunities for learning could mean permanent setbacks.”

Grade-school students aren’t the only ones affected by the shutdowns. University students continue to learn by sitting in classrooms connected to their professors, who lecture to them from homes or faculty offices. Increasingly, student surveys reveal that they feel disconnected and even cheated, given that most colleges and universities haven’t lowered tuition for online learning.

These setbacks may only show up on test scores and class grades for now, but in the long term the loss of skills and knowledge will likely have a larger impact on our society and our economy.

These are all real concerns created out of thin air by elected officials hungry for power and relevance. Is it any wonder that these same officials want more government funding, more intervention, and more oversight to “fix” the problems they’ve created? If we’re not vigilant when we emerge from these lockdowns, our schools will be even more under the boot of Big Government.

Unless Americans stop looking to the state to solve all our problems, we’ll never escape from the cycle of dependency, and we’ll never be free from those who keep falsely claiming to serve our best interests.

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