Schools all across Wisconsin have been forced into virtual instruction for the better part of two years during the COVID-19 crisis. While the teachers’ union and the Kenosha Unified School Board were busy keeping schools closed, our children were struggling—mentally, physically, and academically.
Unfortunately, the struggle for kids is far from over.
Negative Impact of Virtual Learning
Virtual learning had far greater negative impacts on our youth than COVID 19 infections did:
- Teen suicide rates surged during the lockdowns
- A significant decline in mental or emotional health
- A significant decrease in physical activity
- Hindered social development
- Significant decrease of proficiency scores in English and Math, particularly in poor and rural areas of Wisconsin
- The CDC quietly moved 1/3 of developmental milestones for infants and toddlers to older ages.
A recent Pew Research poll showed that 67% of parents believe that the possibility that students will fall behind academically without in-person instruction should be given “a lot” of consideration.
Public education is (or at least should be) a partnership between the parents and the schools. Moreover, good public education is important to the overall health of a community.
These parents’ concerns are indeed well-founded. It’s already become abundantly clear that students who were kept home the most, fared the worst. Milwaukee and Madison have led the state in denying in-person instruction to their students, and it follows that they also lead the state in test score decline.
In Wisconsin’s standardized Forward test, Wisconsin’s students have scored an average of 16.4% lower proficiency in English and 20.6% lower in math for 2021 than in the pre-lockdown 2019 scores. While this number is bad enough to tell us that the education establishment has lost ground due to a lack of in-person learning, the shockingly low scores of Madison and Milwaukee underscore the moral of the story.
In Milwaukee, the test score dropped by over 60% and over 73% for English and math respectively. Madison had declines of 56% and 41% in just the two years between tests.
According to a new report released by the World Bank, UNESCO, and UNICEF, this generation of students stands to lose $17 trillion in lifetime earnings (present value) as a result of this virus-related school closures. This new projection is far more severe than originally thought.
The loss of education over the last 21 months is morally unacceptable. Wisconsin taxpayers spend a great deal of money on public education, because we inherently believe young minds are worth it.
It’s time for our public schools to step up recovery plans that will at least begin to make up for the loss of education. The best line of defense rests with you voicing your concerns to your local school board and exercising your right to vote at the ballot box on Tuesday, April 5th.
Image Credit: Image by Lucas Law on Unsplash