Since the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s students are posting lower test scores, amounting to historic learning loss. The school shutdowns, however, are not the only reason students’ achievement is declining, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
High school graduates from the class of 2022 averaged a score of 19.8 out of 36 on the ACT, a college admissions test, the lowest score in more than 30 years.
Experts told the DCNF that while the scores are further proof the shutdown of schools from the COVID-19 pandemic caused learning loss, the current American school system, teachers’ unions, and a stray from traditional education have caused students’ academic achievement to drop.
“America is getting dumber because American parents have been working so many hours to either ‘keep up with the Jones” or to put food on the table, they had to have blind trust in the public schools,” Yael Levin, chief communications officer of No Left Turn in Education, a group focused on parental rights in education, told the DCNF.
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Andrew Handel, education task force director for the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit that drafts model legislation, told the DCNF that a lack of school choice is causing students to suffer.
“I think the way America has done education just doesn’t work,” Handel said to the DCNF. “This method of taking kids and assigning them to a school based on nothing more than a zip code or an address, it’s just an outdated, ineffective and inefficient way of going about things. Especially when you look at today. One of the bright spots coming out of the pandemic was, we saw a lot of new educational opportunities popping up.”
While public school students saw historic learning losses since the pandemic, students in private Catholic schools saw less of a decline in their math and reading scores, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Fourth-grade students in Catholic schools saw no change in their math scores while also seeing no change in the fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores.
In February, more than 70% of Americans supported school choice and funding school vouchers, while just 18% of voters oppose it, according to a Real Clear Opinion Research. The poll collected data from 2,000 registered voters.
Levin told the DCNF that teachers unions’ focus on politics, rather than education, is lending itself to a lack of academic achievement.
“America is getting dumber because education has been hijacked by the teachers’ unions,” Levin told the DCNF. “The executives of the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and most state and local union leaders don’t care about education – they care about their cash cow. Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT earned more than $426,000 in 2020-2021 while Becky Pringle, the president of the NEA in 2020-2021, the year of the Covid shutdown prolonged by the unions, earned $25,000 more than in the previous year, for a total of $534,234.”
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The NEA recommended for summer that students read “Why We Fly,” a book about two girls who kneel in protest of the national anthem. In July, the NEA committed to spending more than $140,000 to research and target opposition groups who are “are actively working to diminish a student’s right to honesty in education, freedom of sexual and gender identity, and teacher autonomy.”
A New Jersey chapter of the NEA ran an ad for the 2022-2023 school year calling parents who speak out against Critical Race Theory (CRT) and gender identity lessons “extremists.” In September, the NEA gave an Ohio school LGBTQ Ally badges that read “I’m Here” and a QR code for students to access adult resources on sexual education.
Levin told the DCNF that the lack of academic achievement also extends to the classroom where lessons have strayed from traditional science and history.
“America is getting dumber because our students no longer learn actual science in K-12 and in college,” Levin told the DCNF. “Now the Scientific Method is racist, and students are being taught that doctors ‘guess the baby’s gender at birth’ and that gender is a spectrum and has nothing to do with biological sex. They are learning that ‘people menstruate,’ ‘people breastfeed,’ and ‘people give birth.’ Women are being erased.”
Teachers are prioritizing CRT in the classroom; approximately 90% of high school students say they have either been taught or heard about CRT in school. About 57% were taught that “white people have unconscious biases that negatively affect non-white people” and 69% said they had at least heard in school that “white people have white privilege.”
Back-to-school curriculums grounded in social-emotional learning (SEL), which lay the foundation for CRT, are recommended for teachers to take five days, or 230 minutes, away from their normal lessons to teach their students to inspect their identity and “wrestle” with “multiple perspectives.”
Almost 70% of voters believe elementary school students should not learn about sexual orientation and gender identity in school, yet school districts are teaching it; in Wisconsin, a school district implemented a sexual education curriculum which tells teachers to refer to a female as “a person with a vulva” and teaches third-graders about “they/them” pronouns.
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School districts are promoting lessons and classes that focus on CRT and transgenderism; in Seattle, Washington, parents say their child was “totally duped” into taking a “anti-American socialist” history course that was labeled as U.S. American history. In Pennsylvania, an elementary school held a training for teachers to learn how to add transgenderism lessons and create a “gender inclusive” classroom.
Handel told the DCNF that there is a solution and way to change the direction of students’ academic achievement and that begins with transparency in the classroom.
“Our response to it is to say at a minimum, these teachers need to be posting the curriculum online,” Handel told the DCNF. “It shouldn’t be the case where a parent is having to file a Freedom of Information Act request just to see what their kid is being taught in school. That’s really what we’ve been emphasizing, making sure parents are fully aware, fully informed on everything that’s being taught to their kids.”
The NEA and the AFT did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.