On reading and math, the New York Times flunks history

By 
Thomas L. Knapp
Wednesday, September 7, 2022

“The Pandemic Erased Two Decades of Progress in Math and Reading,” reads a Sept. 1 headline at the New York Times.

See what they did there? See what’s incorrect? If not, consider these three snippets from the article beneath the headline: “National test results released on Thursday showed in stark terms the pandemic’s devastating effects on American schoolchildren, with the performance of 9-year-olds in math and reading dropping to the levels from two decades ago.”

“Then came the pandemic, which shuttered schools across the country almost overnight.”

“[E]xperts say it will take more than the typical school day to make up gaps created by the pandemic.”

The headline and the three snippets represent a brazen attempt at Orwellian “rectification” of history to erase key facts and reassign blame.

The pandemic itself -- that is, COVID-19 -- has had almost no direct effect on 9-year-olds.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, to date the total number of 9-year-old Americans who have died of COVID-19 in the 32 months since it broke out is 42. That’s about one of every 25,000 U.S. COVID-19 deaths. The numbers for other preteen and adolescent age groups are similar.

We’ve known since early on that kids are unlikely to get COVID-19, even less likely to become severely ill from COVID-19, and have almost no chance of dying of COVID-19.

We’ve also had a pretty good grasp of COVID-19’s symptoms from the beginning. Fever. Dry cough. Fatigue. Respiratory distress. One thing that’s not a symptom of COVID-19? “Shuttering of schools.”

COVID-19 didn’t “shutter schools.” Humans -- adult humans in positions of authority -- did that.

After nearly three years, education is one of many institutions that haven’t recovered from the damage done by dumb decisions American politicians and bureaucrats made early on and then kept making, all while hopping from foot to foot screeching “BUT SCIENCE!” at anyone who pointed out the costs and problems involved. Instead of admitting that the decisions they made were, in most cases, massive unforced errors based on panic and political power grabs rather than on sound science or any previously existing conception of “public health,” the people who made those choices keep trying to shift blame. Why? Presumably because they hope to avoid responsibility and accountability by memory-holing what actually happened and their role in it, and just blaming Every Bad Thing on “the pandemic.”

And the New York Times is helping them get away with it. Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. He lives and works in north central Florida.

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