The New York Times has been doing a good job of tracking public schools’ ongoing closures and the impact it’s had on kids and families. In “In Los Angeles, Teachers and Students Struggle With ‘No Human Contact,’” reporter Jennifer Medina details the sad but not exactly news breaking reality that teachers are having a very hard time connecting with their students in a virtual system.
Medina says that the data is sparse, but the “early surveys are worrisome” especially when it comes to grades. She goes on to explain how, in the greater Los Angeles area school district, Ds and Fs have spiked while reading proficiency has plummeted. This is consistent with what we’ve seen in other closed school systems, again, for months.
Sadly, Medina glosses over who is causing this mess—the teacher’s unions who have created impossible-to-reach standards for teachers to return and have attached demands to returning (pay raises, more benefits, rent cancellation and other non-education related requirements). Instead of highlighting the unions’ role in this, she writes (emphasis mine):
“Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia and many other big city systems have also relied heavily on remote learning this school year. Those policies have been shaped in part by concerns about the disproportionately deadly impact of the coronavirus on Black and Latino communities. Powerful teachers’ unions alarmed about possible in-school transmission of the disease have also had a major influence.“
Possible in-school transmission? Really? Where? When?
Medina doesn’t inform her readers that there has been very little “in-school transmission.” She doesn’t mention that the CDC has said repeatedly that schools can and should be opened and that schools are not vectors for COVID-19. She doesn’t include a quote from Dr. Fauci, who, despite being Captain Caution, has firmly stated (through his double masks) that schools should open. She doesn’t include the latest data from the CDC that shows almost no transmissions have originated in schools. She fails to address the inconvenient fact that private schools have been open and operating since September.
Yet, Medina does talk about the toll isolation has had on children and that it has impacted certain kids more than others. She quotes Austin Beutner, Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent saying, “If you’re a first or second grader, and someone at home is not helping you, you’re probably not making a ton of progress. There is just no question this is disproportionately hurting students who can least afford it.”
Yet, it isn’t just children from poor families who are suffering. Special needs students are falling behind their peers at an alarming rate.
Yesterday, Fox News host Martha MacCallum spoke to Denise Warburton, an Alexandria mom of a special needs child who virtually attends an Alexandria City public high school. All of the public schools in Alexandria have been closed since March 2020 (private schools are all open). Listen here how Warburton describes in heartbreaking detail how her special needs son, who is home alone most school days, is struggling with virtual school.
The fact that schools are still closed would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic. But it is. I appreciate the Times continuing to focus on this issue but perhaps they should shift their stories from telling us things we already know to featuring those who are responsible for keeping up the charade that schools are dangerous.