Politics

Detroit Progressives Pushing School Closures Don’t Care About Black Students

I highly doubt I am the only one who has noticed how the ones who loudly claim to care about the plight of black Americans the most are the ones who tend to do them the most damage. This tendency among progressives has shown itself time and time again. But in this particular story, it has shown up in a way that is more egregious than normal.

The Detroit Free Press recently published a piece in which author Lily Altavena describes how school closures have a disproportionately negative impact on black and brown students. In the piece, she writes:

The students learning from home — or not at all — this week in major Michigan school districts are more likely to be Black.

The major Michigan school districts that decided to shut down in-person classes in the new year serve higher populations of students of color, particularly Black students, according to a Detroit Free Press analysis.

The author also notes that in majority-white districts, schools remain open. She explained:

Meanwhile, other major districts, including Utica Community Schools, where 83% of 25,000 students are white, and Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, where 66% of 16,000 students are white, reopened for in-person instruction on Monday.

The article notes that “unlike in the beginning of the pandemic when the state dictated widespread shutdowns, individual districts for more than a year now have been left to decide when to close,” and this has led to “disruptive starts and stops to in-person school,” while others have remained open more consistently.

Altavena explains that increasing coronavirus cases and subsequent staff shortages have contributed to the rate of school closures. “School leaders including Detroit Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said they have little choice but to shutter as infection rates increase, particularly in Detroit where the infection rate of people who have been tested is 36%. Vaccination rates in the city also lag compared with other big cities,” she writes.

While some have accepted the decision to inconsistently open and close schools, others have taken issue with the practice, citing the negative impact on children. One mother told the Detroit Free Press that the frequent disruptions have become a significant problem, as virtual school does not provide much in the way of learning.

“I don’t even know what he doesn’t know at this point, because he’s been virtual since the end of seventh grade,” she said. “More than he’s been in school.”

In Detroit and Lansing, the problem is even more pronounced for black students. Altavena writes:

Detroit, with nearly 50,000 students, and Lansing, with 10,000 students, represent two large districts where students of color make up most of the student population. About 17,000 students attend Ann Arbor Public Schools — about half of the students in that district are students of color while the other half are white.

Vitti argued the frequent closures are the result of people not getting vaccinated against COVID-19. In essence, he was saying if black parents are tired of frequent disruptions in their children’s education, they need to take the jab.

NBC News published a report indicating that what is happening in Michigan is also taking place all over the country. Frequent school closures are causing minority students to fall behind academically. The report noted:

The latest is a report from NWEA, formerly the Northwest Evaluation Association, which analyzed the results of tests given to nearly 4.4 million U.S. students in grades three through eight this fall and found that most fell short in math, scoring an average of 5 to 10 percentile points behind students who took the same test last year.

While a majority of students did better than expected in reading — scoring at levels similar to typical nonpandemic years — this wasn’t true for Black and Hispanic students and those who attend high-poverty schools. Those groups of students saw slight declines, suggesting the pandemic has exacerbated long-standing educational disparities, possibly setting children who were already behind their white and more affluent peers even further behind.

The report also noted how another testing organization found that “Black, Hispanic and Native American students, as well as rural students and those who attend schools that serve high-poverty populations, lost more ground than students with more advantages.”

McKinsey & Co. conducted a national analysis of this matter and found that students were four months behind in reading and five months behind in math at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. It also showed that 35 percent of parents were “very or extremely concerned” for their child’s mental health.

School closures aren’t only affecting students academically – they are also having a detrimental impact on students’ mental health. A study published by the JAMA Network, a medical journal, concluded that “a small association between school closures and worse child mental health outcomes was observed, with older children and children from families with lower income experiencing more mental health problems associated with school closures.”

The study also noted that students “from families with lower income and those belonging to minority racial/ethnic groups were most likely to experience school closures.”

The article also concluded:

The findings of this study suggest that older and Black and Hispanic children as well as those from families with lower income who attend school remotely may experience greater impairment to mental health than their younger, White, and higher-income counterparts. Ensuring that all students have access to additional educational and mental health resources must be an important public health priority, met with appropriate funding and workforce augmentation, during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

What makes this situation even worse is the reality that there is scant scientific evidence that schools are super-spreaders of the COVID-19 virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “[c]ompared with adults, children and adolescents who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 are more commonly asymptomatic (never develop symptoms) or have mild, non-specific symptoms (e.g. headache, sore throat)” and that “[c]hildren are less likely to develop severe illness or die from COVID-19.”

In 2020, New York City discovered that reopening its schools resulted in extremely low rates of infection among students and staff. After testing 15,111 staff members and students, they found that only 18 people, including 13 staff members and five students, were infected with the coronavirus.

In the same year, The Atlantic published a heavily data-driven piece showing that schools are not super spreaders, much to the consternation of some on the left. “We are starting to get an evidence-based picture of how school reopenings and remote learning are going (those photos of hallways don’t count), and the evidence is pointing in one direction. Schools do not, in fact, appear to be major spreaders of COVID-19,” the author wrote.

The fact that progressives are so gung-ho about closing schools without considering the consequences demonstrates their lack of concern about how it affects black and brown students and their parents. It is clear that these frequent interruptions in the students’ education are not necessary, given that children are far less likely to be impacted by the pandemic – especially if the schools are taking appropriate precautions while children are learning.

The fact that folks like Vitti are willing to hold people’s childrens’ education hostage to coerce them to get vaccinated shows how political this issue has become. Moreover, the reality that predominantly white schools are not being shuttered demonstrates that perhaps progressives don’t care as much about racism as they claim – they are preventing black and brown children from receiving the education they deserve because they want to keep selling vaccines.

But none of this is surprising. As with most of the policies and programs they push, progressives continually show their ultimate objective is using black Americans to gain more power and nothing more. The question is: How long will they manage to get away with it?


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