NY Times newsletter breaks down ruinous school closures: 'Remote learning was a failure'

'Were many of these problems avoidable? The evidence suggests that they were.'

A New York Times newsletter broke down the negative effects of school closures Thursday and affirmed what many believed to be true during the pandemic: "Remote learning was a failure." 

The New York Times' David Leonhardt outlined the learning loss experienced by students who stayed home for remote learning in 2020 and 2021. "On average, they lost the equivalent of about 50 percent of a typical school year’s math learning during the study’s two-year window," he wrote. 

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FILE PHOTO: A child wears a face mask on the first day of New York City schools, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Brooklyn, New York, U.S. September 13, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: A child wears a face mask on the first day of New York City schools, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Brooklyn, New York, U.S. September 13, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo)

He noted that keeping schools closed throughout the pandemic made "economic and racial inequality in learning" much worse. 

"Low-income students, as well as Black and Latino students, fell further behind over the past two years, relative to students who are high-income, white or Asian," the newsletter said.

"Were many of these problems avoidable? The evidence suggests that they were," Leonhardt wrote, adding that remote learning did more harm than good. "Many school administrators probably could have recognized as much by the fall of 2020."

Unfortunately, many left-leaning officials appeared to only change course on remote learning following the omicron outbreak in winter 2021-22. 

New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait wrote in January that the progressive left likely was starting to notice that school closures throughout the pandemic were a "catastrophic mistake." 

Christina Pagan, 7, does her school work using an iPad and a pencil with a workbook. 

Christina Pagan, 7, does her school work using an iPad and a pencil with a workbook.  (Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

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"Many liberals are complaining that the recent debates over short-term closings are creating a hysterical overreaction from people still angry about the 2020-21 school shutdown," Chait wrote. "Perhaps a first step to building trust that we are not planning to repeat a catastrophic mistake is to admit the mistake in the first place."

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers (ATF), was criticized Wednesday for a lack of self-awareness with regard to teachers unions and their role in keeping schools shuttered throughout the pandemic.  

Weingarten, who lobbied for years to delay the reopening of schools, said this week, "Our kids are in crisis … for two years of disruption, two years of looking at the screens, two years of not having a normal kind of routine and rhythm, recovery is really tough."

Supporters of the Chicago Teachers Union participate in a car caravan during negotiations with Chicago Public Schools earlier this year. 

Supporters of the Chicago Teachers Union participate in a car caravan during negotiations with Chicago Public Schools earlier this year.  (REUTERS/Eileen T. Meslar)

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A 2020 New York Times op-ed admitted that former president Donald Trump was "right" about keeping schools open. 

"Some things are true even though President Trump says them," Nicholas Kristof wrote at the time. "Trump has been demanding for months that schools reopen, and on that he seems to have been largely right. Schools, especially elementary schools, do not appear to have been major sources of coronavirus transmission, and remote learning is proving to be a catastrophe for many low-income children."

Still, the Chicago Teachers Union defied their city's order to return to in-person instruction in early January 2022 amid an uptick in omicron cases, which prompted a lot of backlash, even from liberals. 

Even Mayor Lori Lightfoot came out against the union and threatened to withhold pay from teachers.