Report: COVID-19 Lockdowns Hurt U.S. Students
Most American students are falling short in math, and covid-19 lockdowns are making the problem worse. That is the finding of a November nwea analysis of 4.4 million students in grades three through eight. When U.S. schools closed in the spring, 55 million students were thrown into unfamiliar ways of learning. They were forced to stay home, away from the support schools provide students. Those without Internet access were cut off from teachers, while those with Internet access struggled in a less structured environment.
The result is that students who took an nwea mathematics test scored, on average, 5 to 10 percentile points behind students who took the same test last year. And the negative effects of remote learning were even worse among black and Hispanic students. While most students scored reading comprehension levels similar to non-pandemic years, black and Hispanic students’ reading comprehension levels fell, suggesting that lockdowns are exacerbating existing racial and socioeconomic disparities.
A separate study by McKinsey & Co. estimates that covid-19 lockdowns have set back Caucasian students by one to three months in math, while non-Caucasian students lost three to five months. Educational experts say high-intensity tutoring and summer school programs will be needed to repair the damage the covid-19 lockdowns have caused. The McKinsey & Co. study estimates such measures will cost $66 billion overall and $2,500 per student.
One teacher in South Carolina reported in May that 15 percent of her students were not turning in homework during the lockdown, even though she had been able to keep contact with them. This obviously infers that many students are simply refusing to study outside the classroom, even if they have Internet access at home. And since many households do not have a stay-at-home parent, many students are without any supervision.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that more students are doing homework online during the pandemic, but that unsupervised Internet use is increasing exposure to cyberbullying, scary news stories, and pornographic pop-up ads.
“I think we should be very concerned about the risk of a lost generation of students,” former Education Secretary John King Jr. told the Washington Post.
The harm covid-19 lockdowns have done to schoolchildren is tragic. But what may be even more tragic is that these lockdowns were unnecessary. Since covid-19 is a disease that primarily threatens the elderly, very few school-aged children have died from the disease. Most European nations have made keeping schools open a priority.
Yet the U.S. has put 55 million students in a situation that has hurt their education.
“We should have the vast majority of elementary school students back in school. It’s just not that dangerous,” said Nat Malkus, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “We are still bleeding, so the first thing is to stop the bleeding, and then we’re going to have some healing to do, and it’s going to take years.”
Even before the covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. ranked near the bottom of a list of 35 industrialized nations in math education. And America’s draconian response to covid-19 is likely to make this situation much worse.
The Bible instructs people to quarantine their sick (Leviticus 13), but America’s public health officials have hurt an entire generation by quarantining 55 million healthy schoolchildren. The nation will suffer from the effects of this dreadful decision for years to come, as students struggle to learn mathematics and reading. The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!” (Isaiah 10:1-2).
Stoking coronavirus panic among voters may help Democratic politicians with an incentive to weaken President Donald Trump’s economy, but it hurts America’s most vulnerable schoolchildren. Thomas Jefferson once said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” Today, the politicians trying to restrict people’s freedom are dumbing down American students!
To learn more about how America’s response to covid-19 is wreaking irreparable damage on the nation, please read “The Cure Is Killing Us,” by Trumpet executive editor Stephen Flurry.