New research reveals the enormous harm that pandemic school shutdowns had on students, and that minorities and the poor suffered the most, especially in places run by Democrats.
To understand the impact of school shutdowns on learning, Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research compiled testing data on 2.1 million students in 49 states to see how school closures and the use of remote “learning” affected academic achievement.
The findings are deeply troubling. Closing schools “had profound consequences for student achievement.” Worse, it widened economic and racial education gaps. The researchers found that “high-poverty schools were more likely to go remote and the consequences for student achievement were more negative when they did so.”
One of the study’s authors, Thomas Kane, told the New York Times that “this will probably be the largest increase in educational inequity in a generation.”
The study also revealed a wide gulf between states based on how long they shuttered their schools – ranging from a handful of weeks to 20 weeks or more.
What the authors didn’t point out, but which is the inescapable conclusion to be drawn, is that states and cities run by Democrats kept their schools closed far longer than those run by Republicans.
Look at the chart below. Notice anything?
The states that shut students out the least amount of time are almost uniformly Republican states – Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Those that kept their doors shut the longest were almost entirely Democratic – California, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington.
Even the New York Times couldn’t help but notice this, admitting that “many of these schools (with large numbers of poor students) tend to be run by Democratic officials, and Republicans were generally quicker to reopen schools.”
These school shutdowns never had any scientific justification. They were the result of union pressure on Democrats beholden to unions for campaign cash.
“High-poverty schools are also,” the Times goes on, “more likely to have unionized teachers.”
Yet when all this was going on, it was leftists such as those at the Times who were calling Republicans murderers for not keeping kids locked out of schools.
Worse still, the damage caused by these needless shutdowns could be permanent, and if that’s the case, the Harvard researchers point out, “there will be major implications for future earnings, racial equity, and income inequality, especially in states where remote instruction was common.”
When not harming educational achievement among the poor and minorities, Democrats were also making them poorer.
Our friends at the Committee to Unleash Prosperity released a report card recently that tracks the impact of state COVID shutdowns on jobs and GDP.
Of the 10 states that did the best economically, all but one – Washington – is a red state. Of the 10 that did the worst, all but one – Louisiana – is a blue state.
States that imposed the fewest COVID restrictions “came through the pandemic with the least amount of collective damage to their economies,” and were basically no worse off in terms of COVID deaths.
As with school shutdowns, these lockdowns never had any scientific backing, and studies conducted since have found that, if anything, they made matters worse.
But follow-the-science Democrats nevertheless pursued lockdowns with zeal. As is with so many things, it was those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder who bore the brunt of a resulting lousy economy.
Democrats talk a good game when it comes to the poor and underprivileged. But don’t results matter more than words?
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board