Great self-destruction follows upon unfounded fear. – Ursula K. Le Guin
It may not seem like it’s the case, even though I’m occasionally correct, I generally avoid playing the tired old “I told you so” trump card because no one really cares. That said, this self-imposed caution does not apply to my hyper-accurate post-COVID predictions, particularly when it comes to what’s left of our major metropolitan school systems.
The main reason I endeavor to consistently report on these realities is the progressive legislators and school board members who did their best to destroy a generation of children through ineffective remote learning and pointless masking want you to forget about their role in plummeting test scores, unheralded student aggression, and teachers walking away from the profession in droves.
My plan is to remind them for as long as it takes to get them to admit they were wrong, which may well be the very definition of tilting at windmills, however.
Ironically, I HATE being right in this case because having to watch a series of horrific COVID decisions play out exactly as I predicted means children are suffering, and I’d gladly trade my prescience for a generation of happy and healthy kids. But best intentions aside, that trade ain’t gonna happen as this recent Associated Press report on the exploding national school truancy problem clearly indicates. To put it in perspective, these sad numbers shocked even me.
Prior to the pandemic, 15 percent of students missed 10 percent of their classes, putting them in the chronically absent category, but that number skyrocketed to 25 percent in 2022. That means a quarter of post-pandemic school children are chronically truant, which doesn’t bode well for the future of this country.
Some states fell well above that “norm,” too. The worst chronically truant 2021-22 school year statistics include:
- 44 percent of Alaska students
- 40 percent of New Mexico students
- 39 percent of Michigan Students
- 36 percent of Oregon, Colorado, and Nevada students
- 34 percent of Arizona students
- 33 percent of New York and Florida students, and
- 30 percent of Illinois, California, and Ohio students
On the local level, a whopping 45 percent of Chicago Public School students – and 50 percent of their low-income children – were chronically absent during the last school year, while 40 percent of U-46 students hit that benchmark.
So, what’s going to happen when all of those suddenly 18-year-old “adults” can’t begin to get a decent job? I’ll Tell you! Crime, drug use, and suicide numbers will go through the roof. When the Democrats behind the mitigations realized they were losing the culture war, they swiftly restored to citing long-COVID, but that rarity pales in comparison to a the price we’ll pay for a generation of children who aren’t nearly equipped for the real world.
Though I have a pretty good idea of why it’s happening, sometimes it’s better to hear it from someone else. Per the AP reporter:
Kids are staying home for myriad reasons – finances, housing instability, illness, transportation issues, school staffing shortages, anxiety, depression, bullying and generally feeling unwelcome at school.
And the effects of online learning linger: School relationships have frayed, and after months at home, many parents and students don’t see the point of regular attendance.
‘For almost two years, we told families that school can look different and that schoolwork could be accomplished in times outside of the traditional 8-to-3 day. Families got used to that,’ said Elmer Roldan, of Communities in Schools of Los Angeles, which helps schools follow up with absent students.
The battle to get schools boards, schools, and teachers to do the right thing and reopen schools was pyrrhic victory at best, and that distrust and animosity will linger for years at a time when missing students and tumbling test scores mean we can’t afford any more distrust and animosity.
You know I’m not thrilled with anyone who supported the COVID mitigations that didn’t save a single life, but since we can’t change the past, we have to move forward and heal those rifts. But that isn’t going to happen when we’re seeing the increasingly hopeless looks on teachers’ faces and their young charges can’t work their way out the most minor social situation without resorting to violence.
Though they do bear the brunt of responsibility, progressives aren’t nearly alone when it comes to putting our school systems on the brink of the abyss. The far left may have driven the bus in the COVID regard, but the far right has been more than happy to jump on board.
Next Tuesday we’ll discuss how conservatives are not only driving teachers from the profession en masse, but how those shortages mean unqualified educators are in way over their heads in our classrooms. We’ll also cover how the demonstrably red all-knowing Kentucky legislature failed to adequately fund the Louisville school district transportation system to the point where those children couldn’t get to or from school last week, forcing the district to shut down for two days.
I want to officially invite U-46 school board president Sue Kerr and superintendent Suzanne Johnson to come on WRMN radio with Mark Bialek and myself to address whether the mitigations were a mistake and how U-46 is planning on recovering for the persistent disastrous aftereffects. Because if we don’t evaluate the pros and cons of our major decisions, then we’ll make the very same mistakes next time around, and we have to arrest this accelerating decline in our largest school districts.
I look forward to our civil discussion.