Monday, May 30, 2022

The Cost of School Shutdowns

If you were looking for some bad news, you’ve come to the right place. This time, the news concerns the fallout from the pandemic school shutdowns. As you know, because you have been reading this blog faithfully, shutting down schools was a very, very, very bad idea. It hurt children, causing cognitive and emotional damage. Not only that, but it was unnecessary; the children who were damaged by the shutdowns were at only minor risk of contracting the virus.

Anyway, the New York Times offers an extensive assessment of the consequences of the school shutdowns. Naturally, it says nothing about the teachers’ unions and the Democratic politicians who foisted this horror on American children, but at least it recognizes the negative effects of this absurd and sadistic policy. We should ask ourselves, in all seriousness, why the perpetrators of this horror are not being identified and held to account. And yet, as long as the perpetrators do not belong to the oppressor class, no one cares.

As of now, school counselors and teachers are doing their best to help children make up for what they have lost. They are naturally optimistic about children’s resilience in the face of this modern form of horrific abuse. And yet, as we have been suggesting for some time now, it is not at all obvious that the loss can be mitigated.

The Times offers up some serious dollops of bad news:

American schoolchildren’s learning loss in the pandemic isn’t just in reading and math. It’s also in social and emotional skills — those needed to make and keep friends; participate in group projects; and cope with frustration and other emotions.

In a survey of 362 school counselors nationwide by The New York Times in April, the counselors — licensed educators who teach these skills — described many students as frozen, socially and emotionally, at the age they were when the pandemic started.

“Something that we continuously come back to is that our ninth graders were sixth graders the last time they had a normative, uninterrupted school year,” said Jennifer Fine, a high school counselor in Chicago. “Developmentally, our students have skipped over crucial years of social and emotional development.”

Nearly all the counselors, 94 percent, said their students were showing more signs of anxiety and depression than before the pandemic. Eighty-eight percent said students were having more trouble regulating their emotions. And almost three-quarters said they were having more difficulty solving conflicts with friends.

The numbers are frightening. We are not just talking about a small group of students. We are talking about nearly all the children. If anyone but the teachers’ unions had visited this level of emotional abuse on children, they would be in jail.

Have the children made up what they lost? For the most part, they have not. So much for being optimistic:

And even though schools have, with brief exceptions, been open this year, students have not yet made up the losses. Seven in ten counselors said that they had seen some improvement in social and emotional skills but that there was still work to be done. Just 11 percent said there had been a lot of improvement since the fall, while 17 percent said there had been none.

Only six of the 362 counselors said that behaviors and social-emotional skills were back to normal for their students’ age or that they hadn’t seen lagging skills this year.

So, we have, thanks to teachers’ unions and Democratic politicians, produced a nationwide mental health crisis in children:

Since the fall, there have been increasingly loud alarms about children’s mental health. Doctors who work with children called it “a national emergency,” and Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, warned that the effect of the pandemic and other stressors on youth mental health were “devastating.”

One consequence of online learning was the degradation of social skills:

Another weakness was social skills. Sixty percent said children were having more trouble making friends, and half said there had been more physical fighting and online harassment of peers.

“There is horrific violence and bullying,” said Alaina Casey Mangrum, a counselor in a Pittsburgh elementary school. “There are physical altercations every single day.”

Violence and bullying are pervasive now. In the absence of socialization children revert to "Lord of the Flies" level behavior:

Nearly all counselors said they were seeing more students with signs of anxiety or depression, and trouble regulating their emotions. In children, these issues often appear as acting out — yelling, fighting or arguing. “The smallest things will trigger an extreme emotional response that is disproportionate with the trigger,” said Stephanie Coombs, an elementary school counselor in Wagener, S.C.

And, as it happens, cutting off children’s social interactions does not just produce anxiety and depression. It produces more suicidal ideation:

Many had seen an increase in suicidal thoughts, even among those in elementary school. “My department is conducting far more student safety screenings for suicidal ideation, gestures, plans, attempts than ever before,” said Helen Everitt, a middle school counselor in Cary, N.C.

Obviously, the more the schools were closed the worse it was:

At schools closed to in-person learning for a year and a half or more, three-quarters of the counselors said children were physically fighting more often, compared with less than half at schools that were open longer.

Naturally, those who are trying to navigate this nightmare maintain a certain level of optimism. If they did not they could not do their jobs. And yet, this optimism contradicts everything that the article had previously reported:

Despite counselors’ deep concern, they had reasons for optimism. Most had seen improvement once schools and in-person extracurricular activities reopened. Dozens said they were struck by children’s resilience. And some said the experiences of the past two years had helped children grasp the importance of mental health.


Anonymous said...

What a disaster it has been to allow unaccountable public health officials to run our society. Have we learned anything from this? I suspect not. Never let a good crisis go to waste.

Fauci should be driven out of his position post haste. He’s the model of a career bureaucrat who is intoxicated with power, with a Napoleonic complex to boot. He has done more damage to public health and empirical science than anyone in memory. And he was the primary proponent of the myth of heterosexual AIDS. Early on, he outright lied about the non-efficacy of masks — and then went on to trumpet their importance (to this day), despite little empirical evidence. He should never have been taken seriously.

I am extremely skeptical of the “experts” I see in the media who are not cross-examined. It’s pure propaganda, the antithesis of science. Science is a method, not dogma.

It is remarkable how much public officials prattle on about protecting children in order to amass (or secure/protect/retain) funding and greater power, only to abandon those little ones they claim to serve. Whether it’s bureaucrats like Fauci at NSAID, or Chicago/LA teachers unions, or the Ulvades public safety decision-makers — the people with all the responsibility (parents) have none of the authority. Keeping kids out of school was pandering to the PANIC! of Baby Booners (“OMG, Don’t kill Grandma!”) than it ever was about protecting the children. Then again, the spoiled brat Baby Boomers have been pandered to for 75 years running…

But at least we don’t have to deal with OrangeManBad with his mean tweets. Mission accomplished. The ends justify the means. BAMN!


DeNihilist said...

How did society ever survive for millennia's when no such school systems were available?

Anonymous said...

"Anyway, the New York Times offers an extensive assessment of the consequences of the school shutdowns." I trust nothing, NOTHING, from the NYT, and the WaPoop, too.

Anonymous said...

"teachers’ unions and the Democratic politicians" DELENDA EST!!!