Public School Failure Didn’t Start With Shutdowns
Pre-COVID reading and math scores were also terrible and reflect decades of systemic failure.
On this date one year ago, our Thomas Gallatin relayed the story of the Biden administration’s attempt to paint angry parents at school board meetings as “domestic terrorists.” In collusion with the National School Boards Association, Attorney General Merrick Garland put the weight of the Social Justice Department behind this despicable attack on parents who were protesting leftist indoctrination in public schools.
Today, we’re reporting on what Education Secretary Miguel Cardona admitted is the “appalling and unacceptable” failure of our nation’s public schools during the pandemic. Parents should be angry.
“The first post-pandemic results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP] are in,” write the editors of National Review. “And they show that pandemic-era school shutdowns and remote schooling did enormous damage to the education of young people.”
Yes, that’s true, but let’s face it — government schools have been doing enormous damage to children for decades.
As the Reason Foundation reported in 2020, “Inflation-adjusted K-12 education spending per student has increased by 280 percent since 1960.” During the pandemic, federal and state governments poured still more taxpayer money into schools that often weren’t even open, all while two million fewer kids enrolled in public school because their parents opted instead for private school or homeschooling.
What’s the return on that investment? How did fewer children perform with more money? Are our kids 280% better at math and reading? Have they even heard of civics?
No, but they are learning various degrees of gender confusion and to hate America because of its supposedly irredeemably racist past. Given what was already a deliberate degradation of education, it’s no surprise at all that math and reading scores suffered during virtual learning and lockdowns.
“Only 26 percent of eighth-graders were proficient in math, down from 34 percent three years ago,” says National Review. “Math proficiency in fourth-graders also declined considerably, from 41 percent before the pandemic to 36 percent after.” It was the worst drop in math scores ever. The Wall Street Journal editorial board says reading scores fared no better: “Nationwide only 33% of fourth graders and 31% of eighth graders read at or above grade proficiency,” a three-point drop for both groups.
The kids aren’t learning and The New York Times is worried that Democrats might be blamed. The paper frets, “The test results could be seized as political fodder — just before the midterms — to re-litigate the debate over how long schools should have stayed closed, an issue that galvanized many parents and teachers.” Translation: It sure would be a shame if the people responsible for this disaster were held politically accountable by the electorate.
No state has much room for boasting, but the inconvenient truth is that the declines since 2019 were generally worse in Democrat-controlled urban centers that kept schools closed longer and more strictly imposed mask mandates when finally opening. Those school closings reflected more collusion, this time between the teachers unions and the CDC. Opinion writers like The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson insist that “plummeting U.S. test scores aren’t a red state vs. blue state thing,” but that’s because the reality is that schools in both red states and blue states are run by Democrat-dominated teachers unions.
Few in the media are also reminding us that the academic harm reflected in “the nation’s report card” came in addition to the terrible social and mental-health consequences pandemic policy caused for kids.
The real story, however, is the decades of failure in American public schools. Read those stats above again and consider that before COVID was ever even heard of, only 34% of eighth graders were proficient in math. Just 36% of fourth graders could read at or above grade proficiency prior to school closures. That is scandalous.
Trillions of dollars have been pumped into schools for decades and that’s what we got for it. Yes, the pandemic shutdowns were disastrous for kids, and the economic effects will likely be felt for years to come. But the real catastrophe is that the public education system has been miseducating American kids for generations. Those 81 million people who voted for Joe Biden got their bad ideas from somewhere.
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