Holding Those Accountable for the Damaged Lives of Kids Robbed of Their Education by COVID Tyrants

News & Politics

I do not have school-age children. If I did, I would organize parents and file a class action lawsuit against any and all who had anything to do with the longer-than-necessary school closings. Study after study have shown the irreparable harm done by these closings to children’s educational progress.

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Do we hear the president talk about lagging scores or the damage done to school-age children? Is anyone in Congress discussing it? This is a generational catastrophe that demands immediate and continuing attention, and Congress hopes the whole thing will just go away.

But it’s not going away. And the huge monolithic educational establishment is too unwieldy to make the deft moves necessary to get ahead of this problem.

Reason.com:

California’s lowest-income students already fared second to last in the nation in 2018, before anyone had even heard of coronavirus. After the pandemic closures, the study found that only 16 percent of Black students met or exceeded state math standards—a number that was below 10 percent for English learners. And then there are the appalling truancy numbers: Nearly a third of the state’s K-12 students were chronically absent during the ruckus.

Do you know who’s addressing the problem? Private and charter schools, that’s who. They aren’t hidebound by huge bureaucracies or beholden to unions. They see what needs to be done and are attacking the problem.

In the meantime, we’ve got to start thinking about accountability. It’s not enough to write about it or talk about it. We’ve got to start pressing Republicans. Perhaps at the state level, but also at the federal level, politicians, educators, and bureaucrats who had a hand in these criminally negligent actions need to be called out and prevented from holding positions of power in the future.

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A recent court settlement may offer a guide to how accountability can be a useful tool in beginning to address the problems created during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent settlement has been touted as a way to force the state to enact meaningful reforms that might improve achievement after several parents had filed a lawsuit against the state. “The change in the delivery of education left many already-underserved students functionally unable to attend school,” they noted in their complaint. “The state continues to refuse to step up and meet its constitutional obligation to ensure basic educational equality or indeed any education at all.”

The agreement earmarks $2 billion in remaining COVID funds to pay for tutoring, counseling, and after-school activities, CalMatters reported. I applaud the agreement, but have limited expectations. Mainly, as the publication noted, “the case has drawn attention to the magnitude of the learning loss during the pandemic.” How much more drawing attention do we need? And more than 40 percent of the state budget goes to K-14 education, so a little more money won’t institute the change we need.

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The biggest problem appears to be inertia. Throwing gobs of money at the problem, and creating new tutoring programs, isn’t moving the needle on achievement scores. The test scores, as bad as they are, haven’t elicited the kind of “hair on fire” attitude necessary to turn things around for millions of kids.

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The lion’s share of the work will fall on parents and children, And because they’re not at fault, that’s totally unfair.

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