It has been two years since the world first noticed people were getting sick and dying from a novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. As the seriousness of the disease became more apparent, policymakers around the world struggled with how to respond.
Eventually, many leaders settled on policies of draconian lockdowns and restrictions in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. As these restrictions dragged on for months and years, some leaders trimmed their sails; some changed course completely. But most policy makers failed to keep in mind the fundamental axiom of governing, most pithily stated by Thomas Sowell: there are no solutions, there are only trade-offs.
Now it is becoming clear that most of the policies they chose, like all policy choices, were not consequence-free. Sadly, America’s school children appear to have borne the brunt of their choices.
Politico and other outlets have reported on the “disaster” of learning loss resulting from pandemic school closures. Unfortunately, this learning loss is concentrated in minority communities that could least afford to suffer these consequences — as I, my rocket-scientist brother, and countless others can attest, education is the key to escaping poverty.
The American Academy of Pediatrics declared “a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health,” specifically noting an increase in suicide attempts, as well as “soaring rates of depression, anxiety, trauma, loneliness, and suicidality that will have lasting impacts on them, their families, and their communities.”
I have been warning the American public about these devastating effects on our children for the better part of two years now. Early in the pandemic, it was obvious to anyone who actually sat down and looked at the data, rather than acting on fear and propaganda, that children were not at risk from this virus nearly to the degree that adults were, never mind older adults with comorbidities, who are overwhelmingly the victims of the disease.
We also knew early on that online learning is not as effective as learning in the classroom. We knew children would disappear from the school system if we went virtual, particularly in minority and underserved communities. We knew that mask mandates, quarantines, and mandatory social distancing would be harmful. Now we have more data proving all of this to be true.
Media Responsible for Spreading Lies, Fear
I welcome outfits like Politico and The New York Times recognizing that policies seeking to halt the spread of an airborne virus have had lifelong negative consequences for American children. But that does not absolve them of their responsibility for bringing these consequences about.
For motivations both noble and base, leftist corporate media was a loud, constant cheerleader for the most draconian of Covid responses. From the start of the pandemic, the public health bureaucracy, liberal politicians, and the left in general spread fear, confusion, and lies about the risks of Covid and the consequences of pursuing their “lockdown and eradication” approach.
At every turn, the leftist media was there cheering them on and helping them squash dissent. For example, when several prominent doctors and scientists authored the “Great Barrington Declaration,” which advocated for protecting the vulnerable but otherwise trying to minimize Covid’s disruption of everyday life, the architects of our failed response enlisted allies in the media, such as The Washington Post, to discredit the proposal.
Other ideological commitments, such as the unjustified faith that teachers unions have the interests of students at heart, also drove the media’s coverage. One thing we have seen in the pandemic is that many teachers unions care about teachers and pursue their desires (especially the desires of the loudest fringes), rather than caring about students.
Indeed, in many areas the teachers unions are the ones who insisted that school go entirely virtual, and resisted with all their will any attempts to resume in-person education. Just recently the Chicago teachers union refused to show up to teach in person, claiming that the risk of Covid was too great. (Would these same teachers be so sanguine if the people responsible for keeping their grocery store shelves stocked acted the same way?).
There, every step of the way, was leftist corporate media, playing up the risks of Covid — always while studiously avoiding discussion of how those risks are focused in a relatively small subset of the population — and downplaying the risks, now realized, of virtual learning.
Despite the incredible costs these policy makers and pundits imposed on our children, all is not lost. The American people appear to be realizing, slowly, that bureaucrats act in the interests of bureaucrats, not the public, and that unions act in the interests of unions, not the public.
The mass exodus from states that continue to choose restriction over freedom is happening for a reason. The mass exodus from public schools is happening for a reason. Ultimately, Americans always choose liberty over tyranny.