test scores suffer from online-only schooling – according to a now prescient-seeming 2017 study of online charter school students. And in a naturally occurring study of the effect of widespread distance learning on SATs averages declined this year: Down to 1051 out of 1600 in 2020, after having averaged 1068 as recently as 2018. Increased enrollment at private schools – many of which went ahead and, with no union to answer to, opened their doors – tells us that those who can are now paying for what they used to get for free. According to a recent polling analysis by Neal McCluskey at the Cato Institute, private schools may already be looking at an enrollment bump as big as 40%. An exodus of affluent families isn’t going to help public schools bounce back any sooner. And reopening at higher than normal capacity puts private school kids and their families at risk. At the private day school in Connecticut where I taught English for two years after college, it wasn’t uncommon for a child’s grandparents to pay their yearly tuition. Assuming the same pattern applies to COVID-era families transferring their children into private schools, a kiss on grandma’s cheek during the early days of an undetected COVID outbreak takes hold at the country day school could turn a gesture of grandparental largesse into the ultimate sacrifice... The safer alternative trend is to hire a freelance teacher, an in-home tutor, or a shared multifamily instructor to lead a homebrewed microschool – what people are calling “pods.” They create a semblance of the community kids lost when schools closed.
looking increasingly possible as the years pile up that back when the school-reform fever first started, the nation wasn’t actually at risk... Now, of course, it really is. There’s still no COVID-19 vaccine. And until we have one, it’s too soon to attempt normality. It’s too soon to forecast when school will resume as it was before. But it’s not too soon – actually it’s probably the ideal time – to say, out loud, why we need it to. It’s looking increasingly possible as the years pile up that back when the school-reform fever first started, the nation wasn’t actually at risk... Now, of course, it really is. Postponing college for a semester, or taking classes online while pining for your friends, doesn’t disrupt cognitive development the way missing out on phonics might throw a generation of readers off track. But online learning just doesn’t work as well for school- age children... Intensive in-person pre-school and kindergarten have a proven record of increasing children’s likelihood to pursue college and avoid prison. And online learning also doesn’t work for families with young children whose parents work full-time or outside the home... Logging into digital kindergarten is pretty pointless without a parent present to pay attention throughout the school day. Well beyond those first few years, the proof is in the Scantron... Students’ standardized
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