In an alarming report Wednesday, the New York Times found that almost three million children have dropped out of full-time school “because of the shift to virtual learning from in-classroom learning.”
Three million, that’s roughly the school-age population of Florida.
The Times says students in poor and minority communities — the group politicians say they care most about — have been deeply affected by the shutdown. Many students across the country do not have access to an internet connection. The National Education Association (NEA) estimates that 25% of school-age children do not have broadband access or a web-enabled device.
The drop-out rate was also most alarming among major blue cities such as Los Angeles, California, and Washington, D.C, where teachers unions have pressured school districts to continue with virtual learning.
The Daily Wire released the following data:
“In Los Angeles, 15%-20% of English learners, students in foster care, students with disabilities, and homeless students didn’t access any of the district’s online educational materials from March through May.
“In Washington, D.C., back-to-school family surveys found that 60% of students lacked the devices and 27% lacked the high-speed internet access needed to successfully participate in virtual school.
“In Miami-Dade County, 16,000 fewer students enrolled this fall compared with last year.”
Data warned us of this outcome, so it isn’t unexpected. There were hints of this at the beginning of 2021 when ABC News found that over two million K-12 students were no longer showing up for school, calling them essentially “off the grid.”
There are several contributing factors to this mess, many of which have no solutions. Those, however, do not include the role politicians played. Of all the poor decisions made over the past 12 months — and there were many — the decision to force students to stay home remains the most inexcusable and consequential. What students have lost cannot be returned. It’s gone, taken away from them for good.
As I argued two months ago, keeping in-class learning closed beyond reasonable dates halted academic and social growth, increased suicide rates, robbed the youth of memories, and according to these reports, kept many students away from school altogether.
For what? No one has answered that with a reason that can’t be debunked in minutes. Was it worth it? That’s a question those in power won’t honestly answer.