School closures were the most catastrophic policy error of the pandemic, with nearly no benefit (CDC published estimates show over 90 percent of kids have antibodies from an infection) and enormous educational, developmental, and social harms. We predicted this early and while we would have preferred to have been proven wrong, we were sadly proven right.
A new Stanford study looking at the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress found “eighth-grade math fell for every state, with a national average decline of eight NAEP scale score points” or enough to wipe out all the gains made since 2000. So much for “no child left behind,” and other slogans that were going to fix our public schools.
We will continue to pay for the lockdowns for years to come. “Students on average face 2 to 9 percent lower lifetime income” depending on where they went to school and the states are estimated “to face a gross domestic product that is 0.6 to 2.9 percent lower each year for the remainder of the twenty-first century.”
There’s one way to turn this experience into a positive, and that is to use the manifest failure of public school bureaucrats and unions to demand alternatives. This year, Iowa and Texas may follow Arizona’s lead and enact scholarship programs that let all families attend the schools of their choice with more, we hope, to follow.