The price of COVID school closures could top $28 billion

Add another grim figure to the toll of disastrous COVID-era school closures: A huge penalty to the lifetime earnings of students forced to suffer remote learning, possibly totaling up to $28 trillion (more than the entire GDP of the country) over the rest of the 21st century.

These figures come from a new study by Stanford University economist and education expert Eric Hanushek, following his own 2020 study, as well as work published by Harvard and Dartmouth professors in October.

The new study analyzes the hideous nationwide drop in grade 8 math scores on the 2022 National Education Progress Assessment, aka the National Report Card. the medium the drop in maths scores amounted to eight points – the largest on record, wiping out all gains since 2000 of up to 0.8 misses year from school and a probable lifetime penalty of 5.6% on earnings.

But this is only for the average drop of eight points. The worst states saw declines of more than 10 dotsimplying even greater future sanctions. The size of a state’s economy also plays a role in the eventual disaster. Thus, according to Hanushek’s models, California, which recorded a decline of six points, will nevertheless experience the largest absolute economic loss at the state level (amounting to $1.3 trillion).

It’s not just revenue that’s hurting. According to a Harvard study, math scores below the NAEP are correlated with higher odds of incarceration, teenage pregnancy and food stamp use and lower odds of owning a home, get married and have a full-time job. In other words, they are a good predictor of overall success or misery.

The tragedy is that the learning losses were preventable. Schools have never been vectors of COVID transmission. Yet the United Federation of Teachers, working hand in hand with the federal government and blue state pols, still conspired to shut them down during the pandemic. This has forced students and parents to accept less effective distance learning.

UFT leader Randi Weingarten’s justification for the closures? The cruel and heartless assertion that “children are resilient”. Still, the new study suggests they will pay a hefty price. But don’t expect Weingarten or any of his co-conspirators to seriously apologize — let alone take responsibility.

Yes, learning losses can be recovered — if schools are regaining and surpassing their pre-pandemic achievement levels in the medium term. But given their current crusade to get rid of everything academic standards in favor of woke indoctrination (done in the name of fairness, of course) remediation seem far-fetched.

This is uglier evidence that on education – as on any other social issue – children come last for American progressives.


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