Saturday, November 14, 2020

Perpetuating Poverty in New York

One does not want to attribute it to raw malice. Why evoke evil when simple incompetence will do. Or else, if we wanted to be cynical, we could say that New York City is going to shut down public schools to make a conspicuous display of how much its leaders care about public health-- even when their actions do not advance public health.

I would say that it's the gang that can't think straight, but it seems to be the gang that can't think at all.

As I write, this Saturday morning, New York City is preparing yet again to shut down the public schools. Teachers unions are leading the charge. They no longer even pretend to care about education. All evidence suggests that the shutdowns damage children, damage their educations, damage their future prospects and damage their mental health.

So, the teachers unions are all-in on the shut down.

As for the question of whether the virus spreads in school classrooms, the answer seems to be that it does not. The Wall Street Journal editorializes this morning:

If New York City’s 1,126,000 million student population was its own metro region, it would have among the lowest per-capita case rates in the U.S. Only 955 of the 150,000 or so public school employees have tested positive since mid-September. Most evidence shows children are less likely to transmit the virus than adults, so schools are less likely to be sources of contagion than are the city’s restaurants or offices, which are still open.

One is forced to conclude that the teachers unions do not care about children. They have been spending their time blocking the expansion of charter schools and defending bad teachers.

The Journal continues:

The union-ordered shutdown isn’t surprising since their last priority is children. Hence they fight ferociously to block charter school expansions and to keep bad teachers in classrooms. Reams of data show that closing schools in the spring has cost students substantially.

Of course, we have been here before. Schools were closed last spring. The results: children lost a year’s worth of education. We can ask whether a child can simply make that up or whether what is lost is lost. I suspect that the latter is the case:

A recent Stanford University study of 19 states estimates that students lost on average between 57 to 183 days of learning in reading and 136 to 232 days in math during the spring closures. New York City students lost 122 days in reading and 209 in math—essentially a year of education in a few months.

One suspects that the school closures were designed to damage the economy by forcing parents out of the workforce and into the home. As it happened, women were the most directly affected, so evidently, defeating Trump was far more important than women’s employment opportunities.

You might consider Europe to be more or less enlightened than we are, but it is now keeping its schools open-- as are other countries around the world. They refuse to sacrifice children’s minds and their lives on the altar of politics. Only in America do we do that.

In Great Britain they assessed the cost-- to children-- of the spring lockdowns and have chosen to open the schools.

These learning losses are why European countries are keeping schools open even as they lock down businesses again. A report from the United Kingdom found that reading comprehension scores among young students declined 15% in the last year. Scores for students from the lowest-income schools dropped nearly twice as much in vocabulary and grammar as in the wealthiest.

So, children who had the greatest need for education, as a way to exit poverty, were most likely to suffer. And this will show up in future earnings potential:

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania estimate that lower education quality during schools’ closures “costs current students between $12,000 and $15,000 in future earnings, varying by age. By October 1, 2020, we project students in grades 1-12 had lost between $43,000 and $57,000, or 4 to 5 percent of their lifetime wage earnings.”

So, the de Blasio-Carranza school shut down program will perpetuate poverty:

School closures will also burden lower-income parents who can’t work from home or afford backup child care. Congratulations, Mr. de Blasio, for making poor families poorer.


whitney said...

I think you were making a mistake by not contemplating conscious evil in these actions

Unknown said...

Exactly! 25 years teaching expereince is that whenever you make come up with new hoops for students to jump through, the best students usually navigate them well, and the poor students can be just paralyzed. My experience is that the difference is dramatic.

Sam L. said...

If they close the schools, why should anyone pay taxes for government schools AND teachers? And school buses?