Of the many problematic responses to the coronavirus pandemic, the handling of the schools ranks at or near the top.
These worries are widespread but, because of teacher unions, not unanimous. Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, dismissed most concerns regarding schools closings, claiming that the students will “recover” just fine:
.@danprimack: Is there a point at which kids' lost education isn't recoverable?
— Axios (@axios) February 22, 2021
Some kids, yes, but not all.
Aside from the social development lost and the memories that never will be, the educational declines from the closings could be felt for years to come. School is a process, a ladder up. Each step leads to another. If students miss a step, they may not land properly on the next.
Brookings.edu claims that students could have begun the fall school year with 70% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year. It got worse for mathematics, dropping down to just 50% of typical gains.
A local news reporter, the parent of a son with Downs syndrome, was understandably outraged by Weingarten comments:
As the parent of a child with Down syndrome, this woman has no F-ing clue. Children with special needs are especially regressing. However, the teacher unions have historically fought against things like inclusion for the developmentally disabled. Go F—- yourself. Or, do your job. https://t.co/9cvbMKaAzz
— Clifton French (@CliffFrenchTV) February 22, 2021
What’s worse, reports surfaced this month that suicide numbers in Clark County School District, of which Las Vegas is a part, spiked notably since the closings. The surge pushed Las Vegas schools to reopen.
A study from AAP Publications concluded the following:
“Significantly higher rates of suicide-related behaviors appear to have corresponded with times when COVID-19 stressors and community responses (e.g., stay-at-home orders and school closures) were heightened, indicating that youth experienced elevated distress during these periods.”
The rise in suicides was brought to more attention when Glenn Beck detailed the moment he found out one of his children was suicidal.
“I won’t get into the details, [but] midnight — about a month ago — my phone is ringing, and my wife picks up,” Beck told Megyn Kelly. “We’re both dead asleep, and she sits right up in bed, and it’s a teacher at midnight. And then the doorbell rings. My wife says, ‘You got to go to the door, it’s probably the police.’
“One of my children was suicidal, let’s leave it at that.”
“Do you have any concept of what not sending my teenagers to school is doing to them? They haven’t seen their friends going on a year,” Beck goes on. “They haven’t been able to socialize. They have been locked in their house and isolated.”
There are more stories of this kind. It’s tragic, it’s inexcusable, and worst of all, it’s unnecessary.
Alyssa Farah put it best, Randi Weingarten’s answer was expected. For the teacher unions, it has never been about the kids. And as a result, the schools that should’ve been opened months ago have remained closed.