Thursday, July 21, 2022

School Daze

It is too soon to assess the extent of the damage done to children by the shutdowns of public schools. Surely, the local government officials and the teachers’ unions should answer for their appalling mismanagement of the pandemic. 

In New York City, an epicenter of learning loss, more and more parents are voting with their feet, and are removing their children from public schools. This will produce decreased funding and fewer jobs for teachers who belong to the teachers’ unions. 

New York’s major Eric Adams calls it a hemorrhage. 

The New York Post editorialized (via Maggie’s Farm):

New York families clearly see city schools failing to serve their needs and are abandoning them in droves.

As The Post’s Cayla Bamberger reported last week, Gotham’s regular public schools are now on track to lose another 30,000 kids by year’s end. That extends a decade-long trend that’s seen thousands fleeing every year, including a mind-blowing 120,000 kids these past five years alone.

Total K-12 enrollment in Department of Education schools back in 2000-2001 topped 1.1 million, versus just 919,000 in 2021-22, a 17% drop (at a time when the city’s population was growing). By next year, the loss may top 20%.

“We have a massive hemorrhaging of students — massive hemorrhaging,” frets Mayor Eric Adams. “We’re in a very dangerous place in the number of students that we are dropping.” Darn right.

Why is this happening? Some attribute it to the fact that people are leaving New York. High crime rates and high taxes have taken a toll. But, at the same time, the new focus on social justice and anti-racism training told parents that their children would be damaged by public school education.

But crime, high taxes, disgusting streets and, yes, lousy schools have plainly driven many away for good. Especially those who can keep working remotely from somewhere else….

For many, the pandemic was the last straw: Kids lost months of education thanks to closed schools and the joke of DOE remote “learning.” Parents also got a peek at curriculum that focused on things like social justice at the expense of reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic.

Of course, the real problem is the public school system where teachers’ unions reign supreme. In charter schools and Catholic schools, enrollment is increasing.

Yet enrollment at public charter schools is up 9% since the pandemic’s start, per the New York Charter School Center; Catholic schools are booming, too. Which suggests that families are mainly fleeing not the city but the city-run, teachers-union-dominated schools.

One thing we do know is, the problem is not money. The Post reports the frightening statistics:

Back in 2000-1, the DOE budget was $11.5 billion, or $10,400 a student; it’s now $31 billion, or $34,900 for each kid. That’s per-student spending growth of more than twice inflation — yet families are fleeing by the boatload. Funding’s not the problem.

While the following news report does not specifically refer to the New York City school system, I am adding it because it offers a look at the damage caused by school closings. We have reported on this from the beginning of the pandemic, so we feel obliged to provide some data that sustains our view.

So, again, from the New York Post, how much were children hurt by school closings:

The average elementary student will need three or more years to catch up on reading and math skills after the pandemic, researchers said.

For middle school students, they expect it will take much longer — and for some, “full recovery” isn’t attainable before the end of high school.

Those estimates are according to new research released Tuesday from NWEA, a nonprofit research group that administers standardized tests.

Of course, this is a crisis. It does require urgency. And yet, the current tendency of politicians to cloak everything in apocalyptic rhetoric caused people’s eyes to glaze over every time they hear of a new emergency. See Dan Heninger’s column in the Wall Street Journal today:

“What we see in these results is really a mixed bag — some early signs of optimism, but also definitely need for continued urgency in coping with this crisis,” said Dr. Karyn Lewis, Director of the Center for School and Student Progress at NWEA, and the co-author with Dr. Megan Kuhfeld on the research.

“We need to be realistic about what the timeline is for recovery. And based on these results, it’s most certainly a multi-year effort,” Lewis said.

As for the study, here is the way it was conducted:

The study analyzes data from 8.3 million students from 25,000 public schools who took the Measures of Academic Progress or MAP Growth assessment in reading and math during three pandemic-era school years.

That data was then compared with numbers from three years leading up to the pandemic.

Unfortunately, as we have known, the children most likely to suffer the worst impact of school closings were minority children. They are now even further behind their peers. The chances of their catching up diminish by the day:

But the research also showed that students in high-poverty schools had fallen further behind, and will likely need additional time to fully recover. The study also disaggregated students by race, showing that white and Asian students have lost less learning than Hispanic, Black and Native American students.

Lindsay Dworkin, the senior vice president of Policy and Communications at NWEA, suggested that policymakers and education leaders invest in solutions targeting the kids most impacted by the pandemic.

“Education leaders will need the resources, support and flexibility necessary to expand instructional time for students, as well as provide more professional learning opportunities to their teachers,” Dworkin said in a statement.

Strangely enough, for all of the enhanced consciousness about race, the teachers’ unions and Democratic politicians have instituted a policy that has caused minority children to fall further behind. The best approach to improving these circumstances is charter schools-- the kind that teachers’ unions and Democratic politicians are trying to destroy.


Anonymous said...


IamDevo said...

Given what appears to be the pre"pandemic" state of intellectual affairs among the public school students in New York City, I find it hard to believe that they could become any dumber by being deprived of their "schooling." (I have placed quotation marks around the terms "pandemic" and "schooling" because, in the fist instance, the alleged global spread of the now rather benign Chinese Wuhan virus was more precisely a government-issued conspiracy theory used to facilitate a tyrannical lock-down of citizens (subjects?), and in the second, the public indoctrination facilities in NYC were much more akin to free babysitting services than pedagogical ones.)