Status of public education across the country two months into the new school year. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Increasing numbers of reports describe the damage to education of our youth.  Students of every age group being hurt by the lockdown. Impact on poor or disadvantaged or previously struggling students is even more severe.

I am heartbroken that the damage will continue for the near future. The compounding effect will be terrible.

9/28/20 – ProPublica – The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning – Keep in mind this article describing the devastating impact of the lockdown on students from disadvantaged families is from ProPublica, a far-left news organization and not from some wild eyed Libertarian organization that wants people to have the freedom to make their own decisions on absolutely every issue in their lives.

Article goes into great lengths describing the struggles experienced by one particular student who has been trying to learn in virtual classes. As a starting point, there’s a grand total of four hours online teaching per week. Four hours – one hour per day on Monday through Thursday. That is the only teaching time. For all his class subjects.

In addition to the technology challenges everyone else has, this little guy has a mom who is making progress in overcoming a drug addiction. She is apparently succeeding which is fantastic, yet that struggle creates extra layers of complications for her young man.

One day he logged in to class and found there was only one other student online. No teacher. Turns out the login directions were changed two days earlier and the only people – the only ones – who got the message were those two students. The entire class missed their only 60 minutes of instruction that day.

Children who were already in such precarious condition that they had been moved into small special-ed classes to allow more intense instruction have almost disappeared. One teacher said one or two of his between five and 10 students show up each day. Another teacher said of 10 students, three had not yet shown up at all. This teacher’s school offered a free laptop to every one of the special-ed students, but only one parent showed up to get a laptop. The other kids log on from smart phones which makes it more difficult to access documents. One regular-ed teacher said only 15 of her 42 students had yet to show up online.

Article continues with many hundreds of additional words. There is a long description on the background of universal education and the racist ways universal education was thwarted in the ’50s and ’60s in the deep south.

Many paragraphs focus on the efforts of teachers and their unions to avoid reopening, which the article identifies as a reaction to the president urging that schools should be reopened. Plenty of discussion about the gap between public schools being closed and private schools being open.

Message I draw from the article is all children are going to suffer, with those who were already struggling before the shutdown suffering a devastating setback in their education.

How are those kids ever going to recover?

The Ohio Star – 9/20/20 – Commentary: NYU Prof Says More Than 20% of Universities Could Fail Because of the Lockdowns – A marketing professor at NYU looked at financial information for 442 universities in the United States. He estimates there could be something in the range of 20% of those schools which fail as a result of the lockdown. That would be something in the range of 85 to 90 universities.

In addition he estimates there is another 30% who will struggle just to survive. That would be another 130 or so in serious trouble.

There has been writing on the walls for a number of years that higher education is in distress over the medium term.

Several factors will put severe, life-threatening stress on universities in the near-term.

For starters, a huge portion of college students are attending classes from home. As a starting point for financial analysis, consider the remote teaching will remove something in the range of half of a universities cash flow. That is an approximation of the revenue from room and board.

Related factor, not cited by the author, is pressure from students to reduce tuition for an online experience being less valuable than in class.

Another factor mentioned is foreign students are not going to be on campus. This is partially because of the virus and partially because of U.S. policy. Article says foreign students typically pay about twice as much for tuition, room, and board as U.S. citizens.

Combine this with high costs for running a campus. Consider restaurants and movie theaters have high fixed cost because of their facilities. Hotels are in worse condition because their facilities are more difficult to maintain. Even worse is a university with huge investment in dorms, classrooms, gyms, climbing walls, and various other high-end recreational facilities. Even though lots of teaching staff can be let go those high fixed costs for operating the extensive campuses will not go away. Imagine the debt load of a feature-laden campus.

All that will put severe pressure on many universities.

9/28/20 – Daily Bulletin – Attendance falling for LAUSD’s first graders – Lots of first grade students aren’t showing up for class in the country’s second largest school system.

Overall the attendance in Los Angeles Unified School District is down 3.7% for first graders from a year earlier.

It is exquisitely unlikely that one out of 20 families have moved out of the city of Los Angeles in the last year. There is slowly growing exodus from California, but not 5% in a year (at least not yet) and certainly not in a city where four or five children qualify for subsidized funding for lunch.

As is fully expected for those who thought about the issue, the impact is disproportionately hard on minorities and vulnerable children.

Look at the extra devastation on certain groups of children:

  • 7.5% – average drop in attendance for Black students
  • 4.1% – average drop for Latino students
  • 4.2% – drop in attendance for English learners
  • 4% – students with disabilities
  • 9.6% – foster youth
  • 13.5% – average drop for homeless students

How are those children ever going to catch up?

I suppose the horrible drop in attendance could actually be worse. Keep in mind this report follows previous disclosure that enrolled kindergartners is down by 14% in LAUSD. See previous post Destruction in the educational world caused by lockdown.

At the absolute end of the article, in the 15th paragraph, there is a gentle observation that the spike in cases after the long Labor Day weekend did not happen. That would be the spike, which the sky-is-falling-and-we-are-all-going-to-die County officials were positive was going to happen. The spike sorta’, like, ya’ know, didn’t actually happen.


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