Teachers’ Union Bosses Sidestep Unprecedented Student Achievement Losses Linked to COVID School Closures They Demanded

The heads of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions had little to say following the release Monday of national test scores that showed massive declines in student math and reading achievement following pandemic school closures the unions insisted were necessary for teacher safety.

Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association (NEA) “remained silent,” Fox News reported Monday as results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) revealed the damage tied to school closures during the COVID crisis.

From the report:

Pringle made headlines in August after tax forms showed she raked in more than $500,000 while fighting to keep schools closed during the pandemic between September 2020 and August 2021. The tax documents further revealed that the NEA gave millions to liberal groups in addition to cash to teachers’ associations.

Instead of addressing the massive decline in student test scores, NEA focused on how to provide “universal school meals.”

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten tweeted “the pandemic’s effects were bad everywhere and that all schools and kids, no matter the state or district, in person or remote, were hit hard,” but then added the test scores ultimately show the importance of backing teachers.

“These results show the pandemic’s grave impact on student achievement and the urgency and importance of supporting teachers to create the safe and welcoming and academically rich environments that kids need [to] recover and thrive,” she said.

Meanwhile, Weingarten took to Twitter to remind her members that the deadline to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness is fast approaching.

Throughout the pandemic, the teachers’ unions used their political influence with their Democrat allies in the Biden administration to keep schools closed.

In late March House Republican leaders revealed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used “political science” and not “medical science” to collaborate with the AFT to create guidance on the issue of reopening the nation’s government-run schools.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) referred to a report released by Republicans on a coronavirus subcommittee that revealed a CDC official’s testimony confirming the nation’s top health agency coordinated with teachers’ unions at an “unprecedented” level to craft school reopening guidance, despite the CDC’s earlier claims that its coordination with the unions was routine.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) said about the results of the assessment also known as the Nation’s Report Card:

A majority of states saw scores decline for fourth- and eighth-graders in mathematics and reading between 2019 and 2022 … The national average score declines in mathematics for fourth- and eighth-graders were the largest ever recorded in that subject.

“There were no improvements in mathematics in any state or large urban district, and eighth-grade mathematics scores declined in 51 participating states and jurisdictions since the assessment was last given in 2019, the year prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States,” NCES added.

NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr noted the NAEP results “show the profound toll on student learning during the pandemic, as the size and scope of the declines are the largest ever in mathematics.”

“The results also underscore the importance of instruction and the role of schools in both students’ academic growth and their overall well-being,” she added. “It’s clear we all need to come together—policymakers and community leaders at every level—as partners in helping our educators, children, and families succeed.”

In 2019, the year of the last NAEP assessment, Carr, who then was NCES associate commissioner, observed the government-run education system had not led to any progress or improvement for American students.

“Over the past decade there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance,” she said, particularly noting that “the lowest performing students – those readers who struggle the most – have made no progress in reading since the first assessment almost 30 years ago.”

Biden Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said about the devastating NAEP results, “We need to improve our education system.”

Nevertheless, during a parent roundtable focused on the test scores, Cardona touted the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, whose funds, he said, “are a down payment on transformational change in education,” a remark that appeared to indicate yet more funds are now needed to “improve” the system.

“We need to maintain urgency – and we have to change the conversation from going back to what we had before the pandemic to doing better for our children,” Cardona said during that forum. “If we do what we’ve done, we’re going to get what we’ve gotten.”

“It is literally Secretary Cardona’s job to facilitate a successful education system – and on his watch, our children have withered on the vine,” said Parents Defending Education Founder and President Nicole Neily in a statement sent to The Star News Network.

“Is it little wonder, given that this Department of Education has chosen to collude with activists and union leaders to keep schools shut, inject race and gender into lessons at the expense of core curriculum, and exclude parents from their children’s schooling?” Neily asked.

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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to sberryph[email protected]

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