This is a map of the school districts in the United States where kids have been forced out of the classroom. I think it does an excellent job of demonstrating how the coronavirus panic at this point only exists for a small constellation of urban intellectual/political bubbles. Many of these places have adopted policies that are far more draconian than they were in 2020, when the virus was actually novel, the symptoms and outcomes were worse, and there were no treatments readily available. As the virus has become weaker, the cost of participating in these social environments has only increased (and the dividends from doing so are non-existent).
Among the people who are feeling the costs the most, however, are public schoolchildren. They want preschoolers in respirators all day. They want kids to eat outside silently and in freezing temperatures (so they won’t get sick, you know). And for millions of children, they are now on their third academic year with acute learning loss. All justified by misinformation about the risk the virus poses to children. This is what the banality of evil looks like.
This is not merely an issue of rich versus poor. I was talking to a 9th grade math teacher on Twitter who lives in a posh suburb of New York City, and they said their students are mostly functioning on a 5th grade level. The kids have still been promoted through the system, but they aren’t functioning anywhere close to where they should be academically.
I cannot communicate how difficult it will be for kids to overcome cumulative learning losses on this scale. If you think they’ve been robbed of their childhoods already, contemplate the sacrifices they would have to make to bring their academic futures back up to speed. Of course we all know this is unlikely to happen.
For urban school districts, it’s like all of the adults in the area have decided it’s totally okay for millions of children essentially to become drop-outs. Look at Atlanta, the only major urban area in the South experiencing profound dysfunction. That is a majority-Black city, where kids were performing well below grade level before the pandemic even factored into the picture. Now they are several years behind where they were behind in the first place.
It matters where you choose to live and where you choose to raise children. In some of these places, the kids never even had a chance at a decent education. The adults bitch and moan about economic inequality, and then they strip the kids of the biggest determinant of social mobility there is. What’s worse is they genuinely believe screwing kids over to this extent is some twisted moral imperative. Sometimes the best thing that can happen for a kid is to grow up and leave their tribe. That’s definitely true when their tribes look like this.
Groupthink is one hell of a drug.