A Washington senator just could not bring herself to admit remote learning as a COVID-19 precaution was a federal mistake.
Network anchor Dana Bash interviewed Sen. Pat Murray (D-WA) on the CNN program “State of the Union” Sunday. Bash noted a New York Times report revealed the policy of forbidding in-person learning at schools erased two decades of progress in math and reading for kids.
The report noted that for the first time since the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests began tracking student achievement in the 1970s 9-year-olds scored worse in math, and reading scores dropped by the largest margin in more than 30 years.
“You’re a former schoolteacher yourself, and you chair now one of the most powerful committees in the Senate overseeing health and education,” Bash addressed Murray.
“Was it a mistake to keep children home for school so long during the pandemic?”
“Dana, this was a decision of local school officials and our scientific experts, trying to get their hands around a pandemic that was killing millions of Americans,” Murray replied, “to protect their children, to protect their staff, to protect their communities.”
When blue states and cities locked down communities and schools at the urging of President Joe Biden, the death toll from COVID was far less than one million. The senator must have caught that because she later modified her number.
“In retrospect, no second thoughts?” Bash pressed the senator. “And I know hindsight is always 20/20, but, given the numbers that you’re seeing and the decline that we just talked about, you still feel comfortable with the way that school districts, even in your home state, handled the pandemic?”
Murray repeated her earlier statement about it being an unprecedented time with people trying to figure out the best way to ensure their family’s safety.
“Remember, people were dying by the hundreds of thousands,” the Washington Democrat remarked. “We did not want that to continue. People had to make choices based on the best scientific and personal evidence that they had.”
Murray may have also been worried that Democrats would be seen defending a policy that adversely affected Blacks and other minorities more than their White counterparts.
In math, Black students lost 13 points, compared with five points among White students, widening the gap between the two groups, according to the report.
A Harvard research study described the profound effect that closing school had on Black and Hispanic kids.
“We find that remote instruction was a primary driver of widening achievement gaps,” said Dan Goldhaber, the first listed study author. “Math gaps did not widen in areas that remained in-person.”
“We estimate that high-poverty districts that went remote in 2020-21 will need to spend nearly all of their federal aid on academic recovery to help students recover from pandemic-related achievement losses,” the study authors opined.
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