NYT report concedes that left-wing COVID-19 lockdown policies led to generational learning loss

(The Daily Signal) – The COVID-19 school lockdowns created generational learning loss, The New York Times reports.

Yes, just about four years after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, The…

(The Daily Signal) – The COVID-19 school lockdowns created generational learning loss, The New York Times reports.

Yes, just about four years after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, The New York Times published an extensive set of data showing just how catastrophic the extended lockdown policies were for schoolchildren.

That reality has been known for some time. Last year, I reported on a House panel highlighting the devastating effect of widespread school lockdowns, which were forcefully promoted by teachers unions, Democratic politicians, and many in the left-wing media.

The evidence is growing.

The New York Times piece noted that the lockdown discussion was “one of the most polarizing and partisan debates of the pandemic.” Maybe it was, but one side was now obviously right, and the other, just as clearly wrong. 

Those who insisted in 2020 that keeping students in a sustained lockdown often called opponents reckless, “anti-science” killers of teachers and children.

As more than a few pointed out on social media, The New York Times report is a remarkable shift in news media tone from a few years ago.

It’s nevertheless interesting to see the liberal newspaper of record highlight statistic after statistic demonstrating the myriad, long-lasting consequences of lockdown policies on young children. The Times piece even admits that those policies were mostly pushed by Democrats—not that anyone with a memory better than that of a goldfish should need to be reminded.

“Some schools, often in Republican-led states and rural areas, reopened by fall 2020,” The New York Times reported. “Others, typically in large cities and states led by Democrats, would not fully reopen for another year.”

The report said that “there is broad acknowledgment among many public health and education experts that extended school closures did not significantly stop the spread of COVID, while the academic harms for children have been large and long-lasting.”

While I suppose it’s good finally to hear that admission, many of the health care “experts” shouldn’t be let off the hook in this mess. Many of them fueled the hysteria that led to the lockdowns. Some, like Dr. Anthony Fauci and the folks at the once-trusted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, misled the American people numerous times during the pandemic.

That reflects poorly on our public health agencies and on the people who listened to them unquestioningly. Our nation’s elite health institutions have surely earned their historic lack of trust. Their recommendations often led to horrendous policies set by governors and other elected officials. Among them were the extended school closures.

The numbers paint an ugly picture.

For school districts that stayed in remote learning through almost the entire 2020-2021 school year, math scores for students in third grade through eighth grade fell more than a half a grade behind. Generally, the longer a school district remained with remote learning, the further math and other test scores fell behind.

It wasn’t just test scores that slipped. Students now exhibit more behavioral issues in classrooms.

“Many schools are seeing more anxiety and behavioral outbursts among students. And chronic absenteeism from school has surged across demographic groups,” the report noted.

Schools in poorer areas had worse outcomes as a result of the protracted switch to remote learning.

“The combination—poverty and remote learning—was particularly harmful. For each week spent remote, students in poor districts experienced steeper losses in math than peers in richer districts,” the Times reported.

It turns out that poor, primarily black- and Hispanic-majority schools in Democrat-controlled districts really did suffer most, since they were the most likely to stay in remote learning longer.

That’s interesting because American Federation for Teachers President Randi Weingarten has eagerly embraced left-wing “antiracist” ideologue Ibram X. Kendi. But according to Kendi’s theories—which rely on the idea that any difference in policy outcomes between races is due to racism—the lockdown laws were almost certainly racist. 

I doubt we will ever hear anything about that from either Weingarten or Kendi, however.

What’s worse than the immediate educational consequences of lockdowns is that the students who fell behind stayed behind. Losing that time continues to drag young Americans down today, long after the lockdowns have ended.

From the Times:

Such losses can be hard to overcome, without significant interventions. The most recent test scores, from spring 2023, show that students, overall, are not caught up from their pandemic losses, with larger gaps remaining among students that lost the most ground to begin with. 

Students in districts that were remote or hybrid the longest—at least 90% of the 2020-21 school year—still had almost double the ground to make up, compared with students in districts that allowed students back for most of the year.

And what benefit did schools and students get from this self-inflicted catastrophe?

The experts The New York Times spoke to said that “school closures were not an important strategy in stemming the spread of COVID.”

So, the only thing we got in return is a hard lesson about ceding power and decision-making to an out-of-touch, scientific-technological elite bound by ideology and the interests of corrupted teachers unions.