In a new op-ed, The New York Times claims the evidence on learning loss is "startling."
It's anything but.
The New York Times published an op-ed today entitled The Startling Evidence of Learning Loss Is In.
The evidence is anything but startling though they position it as such.
It’s hard to describe how angry this “revelatory” piece of writing makes me.
No, I don’t feel any sense of redemption. I just feel angry that it took them this long. And that the journalistic outlet fails to acknowledge their own complicity in these devastating results.
The evidence is now in, and it is startling. The school closures that took 50 million children out of classrooms at the start of the pandemic may prove to be the most damaging disruption in the history of American education. It also set student progress in math and reading back by two decades and widened the achievement gap that separates poor and wealthy children.
To anyone paying attention, it was clear what would happen along. My first writing on the subject was this in February 2021, but I had started pushing back from day one — March 2020 — in my own community, on news programs, on social media, and with open schools rallies, like the one pictured below from December 2020.
It was all obvious — the learning loss, the disengagement from education overall, the depression and anxiety and suicidality due to severe isolation (often summarized as “mental health impacts”), the chronic absenteeism, the drop out rates, the graduating without being able to read, the abuse at home, the loss of community and hope . . . I could go on. And on. And of course, the poorest, most vulnerable children were harmed the most.
But if anyone pointed that out in real time, we were called racists and able-ists and eugenicists. Among many other career-destroying smears.
It’s nice that The New York Times has caught on now. But in this accurate oh-so-too-late piece, they fail to acknowledge their own complicity in extending and furthering the devastating, ineffective and morally abhorrent school closures during 2020-2021, with restrictions to children continuing for more than a year after schools actually opened everywhere in the Fall of 2021.
They elevated the voices of those who furthered fear with a schools needs to be closed or else all the children and teachers will die hysteria.
Science reporter Apoorva Mandavilli persistently stoked fears about the danger of covid to children and downplayed the significant risks of keeping them at home, “learning” on screens, isolated from their peers.
In October 2021, just as children across the country were heading back to school, Mandavilli exaggerated the number of children hospitalized for covid by 14x, or 837,000 cases.
She continued to stoke unwarranted fear just when kids were going to get a semblance of their lives back, and when adults had been going to bars and dance clubs and sports stadiums for over a year.
Was her intention to encourage school districts to shut down again? Who knows. Certainly she got the numbers way way wrong. And certainly there was ample evidence that kids were at little to no risk, nor had they been since the very beginning. But any suggestion — with data cited — that covid was not in fact dangerous to kids, was deemed “covid denialism” by Mandavilli.
This a science reporter for The New York Times folks, not some Twitter rando. Her articles and Tweets carried real weight and influence.
The New York Times failed to interrogate the issue of closed schools during covid in real time. They platformed fear mongerers and silenced, vilified or just ignored dissenters, which included renowned doctors and scientists who dared to challenge the mainstream narrative.
The New York Times consistently published government and Big Pharma issued press releases as if they were journalism. They platformed the spokespeople of these entities and their paid influencers furthering unwarranted fear and packaging it as “the science.”
If a normie like me could read and interpret the data available since March 2020 and know that not only would closed schools be incredibly harmful to the most vulnerable children, but that their risk from covid was thousands of times less than an elderly person, then certainly the science desk at The New York Times should have been able to do so.
Simply pushing the narrative that “everyone was at equal risk” was journalistic malpractice.
The news organization needs to go so many steps further than this op-ed.
They need to apologize for their untruthful, damaging reporting which gave cover to government leaders in refusing to open schools and teachers’ unions in refusing to return their members to the classroom.
They need to apologize for smearing those of us who challenged. We didn’t just suffer reputational harm and hurt feelings. We lost friends, our communities, our jobs in some cases. And, our voices were not part of the necessary societal discussion that needed to happen but didn’t. Because The New York Times presented one viewpoint — kids are at terrible risk and schools need to stay closed — as the undisputed “science.” As inarguable fact. Anyone who dissented was clearly an insane, alt-right, flat-earther lunatic.
Lastly, after apologizing to both the children harmed and the dissenters dragged through mud, The New York Times needs to pursue this story relentlessly. So that children get the help they so desperately need and deserve. And so that it never happens again.
I’ve been making a documentary on this subject — featuring the stories and voices of the children harmed — for the past year and a half. We have finished filming. If you care to donate to help us finish editing you can do so here. If you already have, thank you.
Here’s is a teaser for the film. (Updated slightly vs the one I sent about a week ago.) Please watch it and share it broadly. These stories need to be told and heard.
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