In a recent debate between Florida’s gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Charlie Crist attempted to smear incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis as the “shutdown guy” in reference to his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Never mind that it’s governors from Crist’s own party who still haven’t ended their Covid-19 states of emergency, while DeSantis reopened Florida a full two years ago.
One of the most disastrous consequences of lockdowns was the drop in students’ educational competence — and, as an analysis from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) shows, the denial of in-person learning to students was concentrated in Democrat-run states. NBER ranked each state and the District of Columbia based on the percentage of the 2020-2021 school year that took place in person. Republican states — including Florida — had the highest percentages of in-person school learning.
Among the top 20 states with the highest in-person school ranking, 19 of the states have Republican governors. This includes Wyoming, which ranks at No. 1 with 100 percent in-person learning during the 2020-2021 school year. Florida ranked at No. 3 with 96.2 percent in-person schooling that academic year, refuting Crist’s absurd claim that DeSantis was the “shutdown guy.”
On the other hand, the 20 states with the lowest amount of in-person schooling during the 2020-2021 academic year were almost all governed by Democrats, with the exception of Massachusetts and Maryland. The two worst-performing areas — California and the District of Columbia — had a mere 19.2 percent and 5.8 percent in-person learning, respectively.
How did the lack of in-person school affect students’ learning? “More often students in districts that struggled before the pandemic and had some of the most stringent lockdowns had some of the worst learning loss,” The Wall Street Journal explained.
As the Journal noted, the latest National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP) scores, known as the nation’s report card, show the mathematics score average for fourth graders in Detroit since 2019 has fallen “12 points to 194—20 points below basic mastery of fundamentals.” A local Michigan report described the NAEP scores for the state as a whole as the “‘clearest picture yet’ of the effects disruption during COVID-19 had on children.” Michigan held in-person learning for just over half (55.4 percent) of the 2020-2021 school year, according to NBER.
How do these numbers compare to Florida’s test scores? While the average fourth-grade math scores declined for three districts in the Sunshine State, these districts “remained above basic mastery of math fundamentals in 2022”– the mastery that Democratic lockdown hotspots like Detroit did not achieve.
Despite the obvious bad faith of his tactic, Crist isn’t the first of the pro-lockdown leftists to try to gaslight Americans about Democrats’ own role in shutting down the country. As The Federalist’s Jordan Boyd reported, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, attempted to “erase her role in keeping schools closed for months.” The New York Times even played along with this false narrative, claiming that Weingarten “spent much of her energy, both in public and behind the scenes, trying to get schools open.” In reality, Weingarten’s track record says otherwise, including the fact that “it was Weingarten’s AFT PAC that funneled more than $1.6 million to pro-lockdown Democrats and left-wing organizations.”
Now, realizing what an utter mistake lockdowns were, particularly for students’ learning, leftists like Crist are trying to gaslight voters and create a distraction from the messes they created.