At the outset of the pandemic, many observers warned that the closing of schools would result in catastrophic consequences for students. Judging by the data recently released about test scores since Covid hit, it appears they were right.
The many doctors who signed The Grant Barrington Declaration in the early part of the pandemic strongly urged that policymakers isolate the elderly and the vulnerable while keeping schools and the economy open.
Many of them were shut out of social media. Some were pressured into silence with the threat of losing their jobs if they stated opinions contrary to the government’s preferred opinions.
But the results coming out of our Catholic schools show that these scientists were correct. Ninety-two percent of Catholic schools nationwide were open to some kind of in-person learning, compared to only 43% of public schools, according to Kathleen Porter-Mcgee, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the superintendent of partnership Catholic schools in Harlem, the South Bronx and Cleveland.
The pushback against opening schools was enormous. Travis Gayles, a former county health commissioner in Maryland, tried to close all non-public schools in Montgomery County. “The privileged class of the county is showing their behinds,” he condescendingly wrote on August 1, 2020, responding to parents, teachers and principals upset of his closure of all non-public schools.
“The Archdiocese of Louisville should be ashamed of itself,” wrote columnist Bobby Nichols in the Louisville Courier-Journal in August 2020. “Opening schools to in-person classes is immoral.”
A report in the journal Education Next stated, “Students lost more ground on average where remote instruction was more prevalent.”
Meanwhile, The Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University found that “remote instruction was a primary driver of widening achievement gaps.… Specifically, if their schools were remote throughout 2020–21, students in low poverty schools lost .201 standard deviations relative to expected growth.“
The article notes that Catholic schools, which had reopened earlier, did not see as significant a decline in fourth grade and eighth grade reading scores in comparison to the public schools.
The New York Post noted, “Notably, kids at Catholic schools, which overwhelmingly were opened the fastest, saw no drops in average in AEP scores at all (save for in math among eighth graders).”