2 years of COVID, woke schools devastated our kids. Will the education bosses ever wise up?
For the first time since the pandemic began, third-grade students have had their English assessments here in my home in Montgomery County, Maryland. The most recent test scores before COVID-19, released in 2019, were already bad enough. Take my zoned local elementary school, Kemp Mill Elementary School, where in 2019, 26.7% of children in third grade were proficient in English language arts. That was, sadly, an improvement from 2018, when only 19.8% of children were deemed proficient. But those scores in 2021 are now enviable; with only 7.5% of children in the school now testing as “proficient.”
These are the direct result of policies the teacher’s unions promoted: School closures, mask mandates, and even now in the summer of 2022, distance learning is still a backup plan for school officials in Montgomery County Public Schools. Our local Fox affiliate reported the first week of the summer, “Staffing problems in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) now mean some students with special needs will have to move to virtual learning for a summer school program. The school system said they’re short about 20 teachers for the Extended School Year program.” Fox5 talked to one impacted parent, Christina Hartman, who explained,
“Charlotte has this very severe and profound intellectual disability,” Hartman said. “Even though she’s going to be six next week, she functions at the level of a 1 or 2-year-old.”
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Christina says in addition to having a caretaker for Charlotte, she and her husband had a backup plan; a summer camp that works with students with disabilities. But she worries about the other families who don’t have that option.
“This was a very sudden move, and these children are extremely labor-intensive,” Hartman said. “Having them sit there and watch a screen all day doesn’t work. She was literally banging her head on the table, and she pulled out all her hair.”
The district faced one of the longest closures in the country, and has now established that “distance learning” is an acceptable replacement for in-person instruction, even for students for whom it is wholly inadequate, severely disabled children.
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So what are MCPS employees spending their precious time on this summer? Volunteering for these special education positions, boot camping about how to make up the catastrophic learning loss that set almost every single student in the county behind? Of course not. Literally the first thing on the agenda for teachers doing professional development over the summer: “Affirming LGBTQIA+ young people by disrupting cis-heteronormativity in our schools and classrooms.”
It’s not just in the United States. Finally, years too late, some in the media who stayed silent as kids were locked out of school worldwide are showing the effects of what we inflicted upon them in the name of “safety.” The Economist declared COVID-19 learning to be a “global disaster” and in an interview about her new book on school closures NPR’s Anya Kamenetz admits “We could have been a lot louder.”
You can say that again.
The excuse many lockdowners are still using for why we had to schools and keep them d as long as we did is that we had to “slow” the spread, and prevent children from infecting adults around them. This argument betrays how broken their thinking is: That it’s adults, not children, that are entitled to protection. This is contrary to everything to we once acknowledged: that adults should sacrifice for children, not the other way around.
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We knew, even as early as summer of 2020, who the at-risk population was from COVID-19. It certainly wasn’t children in public schools or even in college, nor was it even their parents. But the entire public health apparatus decided that children were expendable, and even a miniscule risk of illness was enough justification to totally interrupt and derail not just learning, but all social and emotional growth, for two critical years of their development.
These belated acknowledgements of what school closures wrought are meaningless without an admission about how we got here: Selfish adults willing to inflict long-term damage on children because they’ve decided that their feelings matter more than the well-being, both short and long term, of children.
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It’s those same selfish adults who have decided that their political agenda is more important than the education of children that they have already deeply wronged; children wronged by adults putting their political agenda before children in the first place.
The days of putting women and children on the lifeboat first are over. We won’t right this wrong without admitting that we wronged an entire generation out of selfishness, not science.
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